NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

An Unthankful Thanksgiving

I was perusing through some old short stores I’d written several years ago and I came across one that happened at Thanksgiving. It reminded me that it’s just as easy to find things to be thankful for as it is to find things to complain about. You can ruin your own vacation by complaining or you can find joy even if the midst of hardship by being thankful. Sometimes I wonder how much I would have enjoyed that trip if I’d practiced gratitude. I hope this year you focus on the things you’re grateful for and enjoy the blessings God’s given you and don’t get stuck focusing on what’s wrong or hard.

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the story!

Thanksgiving Cruise

I think it’s a bit ironic that the only cruise I’ve ever been on was set during the week of Thanksgiving. However, this is one of the trips that I can remember a lot of unthankfulness. But it did teach me a lesson. And it is one trip I’ll never forget.

We started our cruise from Galveston, TX. We should have been very thankful that we didn’t have to fly all the way to Florida to get on a cruise, but unfortunately, we were late getting to the ship, and this caused some bad attitudes.

“If only we would have left when I said we should,” Dad grumbled as he parked the car.

We hurried to unload our many suitcases and glanced up thankfully at the tall ship. At least we weren’t being left behind… yet.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” my younger sister Alicia said with a whine, “I’ve been holding it for fifteen minutes.”

“Just a little longer,” Mom assured her. “We’ll go sign in and I’m sure they have a bathroom somewhere.”

“Come on already,” my younger brother Jonny said with frustration. “I don’t want the ship to leave without us.”

I agreed with Jonny and started following him towards the wharf, with my wheeled suitcase in tow. We soon found the check-in area, and I was a bit relieved to find out that we weren’t the only family that had gotten there late. But there were some consequences. As Dad signed papers, I stared up at the ship’s deck high above us, and spotted groups of passengers clumped together in formation at the lifeboats. They were undergoing a mandatory safety training, and we were missing it.

“You’ll have to do the late training this evening,” the check in person said.

I shook my head; of course it would be my family that missed the safety training. I was pretty sure we weren’t going to experience a Titanic like adventure, but I still wanted to be prepared in case some kind of emergency happened. Now, while everyone else was having fun, we’d have to stand like a bunch of idiots out on the deck and do our safety training, basically singling ourselves out as the irresponsible ones. But it could be worse, at least we didn’t have to do it alone, there were several other families who were late too.

As our trip got underway, I found myself spending a lot of time in our cabin, a tiny room with two bunk beds, and a TV. We watched a lot of old cartoons that I hadn’t even known had existed. There was Adam Ant, and Mighty Mouse, and the Spiderman movie was played continually on one channel.

“Uh, I wish they played some better cartoons,” I whined. “Like Scooby Doo. There’s nothing good on these channels.”

“I’m bored of TV,” Jonny joined in.

“Yeah, I’m so bored.” I knew complaining about being bored was kind of dumb: I was staying in the room watching the same cartoons over and over instead of getting out on the ship. But I didn’t want to make any effort; I just wanted to be entertained. Thus the unthankfulness epidemic grew. Every little thing there was to complain about somehow got mentioned.

“Uh, I wish that stupid rule about not swimming in the adult pool never existed,” I complained.

“Yeah, that current is so fun to play in, and it’s not as crowded as the kid pool,” Jonny added.

“And we’re all good swimmers, it’s not like we need a life guard or an adult to watch us, we can take care of ourselves,” I added.

“You know what I’m sick of?” Alicia asked.

I turned my head lazily to face her, “What?”

“Those lady fingers that they put in all the desserts, they taste disgusting and I’m so tired of having to pull them out of everything.”

“Speaking of food,” Jonny added. “Did you know they ran out of free ice cream in the lounge today? Talk about disappointing.”

This kind of talk would go on and on, and what did we do; sit and watch more boring TV.

Thankfully, this was not the case every day. On the days we were stopped at an island or foreign country, there were chances to explore, and get off the boat. But complaining fests still crept upon us. The worst stop was in Cozumel, Mexico. For some reason, everyone found something to complain about that day, and even though we were all a part of doing something very enjoyable, we focused in on the parts that didn’t meet our expectations.

I climbed into the taxi after Dad had finally flagged down a taxi van that was big enough for our whole family. It had been a long day. We had split up this time with Mom and me going to a ranch to ride horses, and the Dad taking the other kids to the beach. “So what did y’all do?” I asked Alicia.

“Well the boys went swimming and climbed a big blow up iceberg, but it was too far out for me, so Dad stayed with me on the beach. It’s no fun being small. The iceberg looked like fun.”

“Yeah it was,” Jonny said. “But you got to go on the bounce trampoline and do flips.”

“But you got to do both,” Alicia whined. “I wish I could have gone with you Lydia. I would have rather ridden horses.”

“Well it wasn’t too exciting. I was separated from Mom for most of the ride. My horse wouldn’t go at all, even when I kicked like the guide said, he wouldn’t listen. He just walked when the horses in front of him walked. I really wanted to gallop with the others, but when I tried, the horse was still really slow.”

“So you didn’t have fun?” Alicia asked.

“No, it was fun. There was a cool show they did for us where this rider danced with his horse. And we saw a lot of ruins on the trail ride… they looked fake to me though.

“Well I’m starving,” my older brother Brain said. “I can’t wait to get back to the ship. Dad didn’t want to pay for any of the food at the beach. He said it was too expensive.”

Just then we pulled up to the curb. I glanced out the window at the ocean in the distance; there was our cruise ship, still as a sunken log. “Good timing then,” I said. “Let’s go eat.”

We jumped out of the van, ready to get back to our temporary home aboard the ship, but as we started moving towards the ship, a yell disrupted the evening air.

I turned back to see Dad yelling at our Taxi driver, saying something about the amount was wrong and that it shouldn’t be that expensive to drive three miles. I kept walking, hoping the other vacationers returning to the ship didn’t think we were part of the same family. I hated this day, not only had the horse ride been quite disappointing, but now my Dad was having a breakdown about money for the whole world to see. At that moment, it seemed like I was on the worst vacation ever.

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Voting

Usa, Election, Democracy, Voting, Votes, Political

Image Source:https://pixabay.com/en/usa-election-democracy-voting-806576/

Well tomorrow’s election day, and if I didn’t remember before, I remember now. I didn’t make it to early voting this year, but I’m still planning on voting tomorrow.

I don’t really have much to say about voting… It’s a right we have in the United States, a right that many have fought for over the years. I know women especially fought hard for this right in the early 1900s. I know there are some Christians out there who don’t participate in voting, or who get really wrapped up in it. And there are a lot of people in general who don’t vote, I don’t know their reasoning behind that decision, but it seems to be a large portion of the population.

And I admit, there are times I really don’t feel like voting either. And I’ve definitely had the thought that my vote won’t make a difference one way or the other. But even if it might feel like that, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t participate. I’m not saying as a Christian you have a duty to vote, I don’t know how much God really cares about that. He probably cares more about your heart and why you’ve made the decision to vote or not vote, and I’ll leave that between you and God.

But I heard something from a friend the other day, and well, I’d like to quote him on it. “Don’t complain if you don’t vote.” I know technically you can complain, no matter if you vote or not, but I think it speaks to a certain truth. If you want change to happen, do your part to make it happen. Don’t just sit back and complain about something that you’re not willing to do your part to fix.

So be a part of the change you want; go vote.

Well there’s my little rant for the day. I hope you make it to the polls tomorrow, no matter what ‘side’ you’re voting for.

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Lessons from Haiti: Finding the Good

I’m coming down to the end of this blog series. Friday was our last full day in Haiti, so after this post I’ll only have one more! Wow! Well let’s get started.

Day 8: Finding the Good

taptap

This day was very different from any of the other days in Haiti. Our work projects were pretty much over, and there were ideas of doing more vacation-like activities; like climbing the mountain next to the camp, visiting an old fort nearby, or going to the beach again. The night before, several people had planned on getting up super early and climbing the mountain. I was surprised that all of the girls in our cabin wanted to do it. I didn’t feel much like getting up early, and I said I wouldn’t go, but after a short night sleep, I awakened with a strong longing to not miss out. So I got up with everyone else and went to the pavilion to wait for the mountain guide.

We sat, and waited, and sat some more and waited some more. But nothing happened. The sun began to rise, the animals began to make their morning noises, but still no guide came. My excitement dimmed and the thought of returning to bed became more and more attractive. Finally I gave up and said I was going back to sleep. I found out later that only a few people actually went up the mountain, and most just climbed the shorter hill where the cross stood. So I didn’t feel too bad about sleeping a couple more hours, but there was still a small sense of regret that I had missed out. In addition to this regret I started to feel a little sick. It wasn’t horrible, but it was enough to make it hard to enjoy my last day on the island.

And this is where the choice came in. I think everyone has a choice about how they view their situation. A lot of “satisfaction” or “enjoyment” I think, comes not from literal circumstances, but our attitude towards them. Even though I didn’t feel great and I had missed out on something fun, I was still able to “enjoy” the day. I got to spend time with people I cared about. I got to hear more testimonies from our group that gave me a deeper awareness of how much God can change a life. I even got to spend more time with the little girl who had helped me paint during the week. She gave me a small seashell to keep, and because it was from her, I still treasure it.

Because I didn’t focus on the “bad,” the “disappointments,” the “pain,” I was still able to enjoy the day. One of my favorite memories from that day was just sitting on the front porch of our cabins: singing songs, talking, and suggesting good books to read. It was a simple time of community, with no schedule, no work project, and no worries.

God also blessed me by putting people around me that were also looking for the good in each circumstance instead of complaining about each change or disappointment. In fact, the group even prayed for me to start feeling better. Even though I wasn’t instantly healed, I did feel blessed and loved because of their prayers. When we did go to the beach later that afternoon, our plans got changed; instead of going to a secluded island, we ended up staying on a rough and rocky beach. But even though the group could have focused on what we had missed out on, we instead found joy in our current circumstance. A few people started wandering down the beach and ended up finding some awesome shells to keep as souvenirs. And a few people went body-surfing on the strong waves with the kids. I even tried making a sand/rock castle. Oh, and we got to ride a tap tap for the first time! That was fun.

So even though the last day wasn’t exactly what we had planned, and even though I felt sick during parts of it, because God gave me the grace to focus on the good things, I still had a wonderful day.

I’ll leave you with this verse, which has been on my mind the past few days:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” -Philippians 2:14-15 NIV

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