I want to start this week's blog with a question.

Did you ever have a stinging disappointment that God turned into an invaluable gift?
Think about that while I tell you a story.

My husband and I used to take a nice vacation every fall. We went up into the Smoky mountains, attended a NASCAR race and spent a week panning for gold. We went to the same place every year, but I looked forward to that week away all year long.

Ten years ago, as I started planning our yearly trip, he informed me that he didn't want to go. In fact, he told me that he was done with traveling all together. I can't tell you how much this broke my heart. There is still so much of God's creation I want to see and, at that time, I couldn't imagine seeing it with anyone else. I put away the planner and went to bed that evening more than a little hurt.

When morning rolled around I bounced out of bed with a God given idea in my heart. Something that would take nearly a decade to complete. A journey that would change my life before it was over.

My husband might be tired of traveling but I had eight grandchildren who would make perfect vacation buddies. Would they go?

I approached my eldest daughter and asked her how she would feel if I took my oldest grandson on a trip. She was good with it and when I mentioned my idea to Derrick, he was ecstatic. Well, as ecstatic as a fifteen-year-old boy will admit to being.

The planner came back out, and I began to plan the biggest vacation of my life. Derrick and I were spending a week in Hawaii!!

This is one of my favorite pictures form the Hawaii trip in the spring of 2005. Derrick in a Moo Moo. This picture so expresses Derrick's personality and the memories are even more precious today since Derrick is a married man now, and just venturing out into the ministry.

With that trip under my belt I was feeling a lot better about my plan. I spoke to both my daughters and told them that as long as God provided financially, I would plan individual trips for all eight of the kids. It was a huge undertaking, an incredible financial investment, and a gigantic leap of faith.

2006 was my first cruise. Cody and I drove to Galveston and boarded the ship for 5 days in the Caribbean. It was just the first of many cruises I was destined to enjoy. I have to tell you about Cody. We were on a ship, but with the exception of dinner time and our two shore excursions, I didn't see him for the whole week. I think he had a good time!

2007 was cruise number two. My first vacation with a granddaughter. Kayle was almost 12 when when went and she stuck pretty close to me. We swam with Dolphins and the pretty ray pictured above. The seven days I spent with Kayle turned out to be true gift from God since I haven't seen her in almost three years now. I hold the memories close until I can hold her again.

In the spring of 2008 I took Blake to the Grand Canyon and Vegas. We slept in an old railroad car, took a drive to Winslow, and road the mules down into the canyon. In Vegas we enjoyed the bright lights, great food and the jousting show at the Hotel Excalibur. I have to tell you that when people say "stubborn as a mule", they speak the truth.

In the fall of 2008, God allowed me a dream within the dream. I was able to take my two daughters on a cruise. Five days of girl time. We had a blast and came home with a closeness that we'd lost along the path of raising individual families and living in different towns. I'm pretty sure the whole ship knew the names of both my girls before that week was over.

I have five more trips to share with you next week as I bring you the conclusion of my journey and the fulfillment of God's gift of love to me. In the meantime I'd love it if you took the time to share your answer to my beginning question.

Did you ever have a stinging disappointment that God turned into an invaluable gift?

***While you're here, Please take a few minutes to visit the tabs at the top of the page. Terri has an interview with E. A. West.  Elizabeth is here to talk about BATTLEFIELD OF THE HEART Be sure to answer the question at the end of the interview. Elizabeth will be giving away a copy of her book at the end of the week. Karla welcomes JODI DAY to her page for a sneak peak at their upcoming releases. Callie has a devotion prepared for us by PENNY McGINNISPam has a recipe for Breakfast cupcakes.***  

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