life as a "choose your own adventure" (seeing a blessing or a curse)

     Week before last was spent, quite unexpectedly, at the beach.  I say "unexpectedly" because early this past spring, presented with a seven digit tax bill and a seven digit tuition bill and doctor bills and etc, we canceled all of our trips and vacations, one of which was a trip to the beach.  Surprising to both Doug and I, we were able to cancel them and move on with ease, because we both knew it was both the right thing and more importantly, what God wanted us to do.  NOT having credit card debt is important to us.  So it was done.  A long summer spent enjoying the blessings of home was upon us.

     We swam at the pool and played at playgrounds and did all the things that little kids love doing.  I was a little disappointed about not being able to see the ocean but it was mostly fine.  Then July finds us in mid-summer.  Everyone I know is going to or at the beach and it bummed me out, just a smidge.  God paved the way for all of our monster bills to be paid and I asked Doug about a quick trip to the beach, even one night, just to see the ocean and fill up my soul before Fall came.

     We started searching for a good deal, something within our teensy beach budget and nothing was coming up.  Everything was going to be a few hundred dollars because most places required a three or four night minimum.  But I kept looking, I figured, at the very least, I would stumble on a desperate beach home owner who would rather have someone in the house paying something then no one in the house paying nothing.   
     Then, THEN, that Friday, just days after I started looking and a month before we were considering going, Doug sent me a text that said "want to go to the beach next week".  Well duh "haha" was pretty much my reply.  Then he went on to tell me that his wonderful number two person at work just offered up her beach house for the following week.  For FREE.  Doug happened to be at the right place at the right time when someone called her and cancelled their stay.  Even more wonderful, his boss agreed to give him the time off (something that would have NEVER EVER happened when he worked at Target!).  And it was settled.  We left for the beach less than a week after we decided to dig up a good deal.     
     I wish I could say it was a PERFECT stay but it wasn't.  BUT we chose to make it one.  Very early on we could both see God showing us something.  It's funny how easy it seems to be able to hear Him when we are yanked out of our "usual" and placed somewhere new.  It seemed, from day one, God was showing us that, no matter what, our attitude is a choose your own adventure kind of thing.  To put it simply, it felt like God was saying "I'm going to give you a circumstance.  I want to see how you will choose to live it out.  Will you choose to find the blessing or the curse in it?".

     Being grumpy is a contagious sort of thing, you know.  Once you head down that path, it's like descending down a mud covered hill, very hard to stop yourself.  From the moment we stepped into that little beach condo, we choose the non-muddy hill.  As a result, the blessings were easy to spot.

     For example,  when we got to the condo it was extremely HOT inside since no one had been in it.  Doug had to climb up several flights of stairs to bring all of our luggage in, it was hours past the boys bedtime.  Sound like a good place to start complaining?  It sure does.  But you know what?  We cranked up that AC, opened up the door to the balcony and showed the boys how close we were to the ocean.  Doug hauled all the luggage with no complaints.  We set the course towards a happy thankful weekend.

     Another example, here we are in a wonderful beach area, surrounded by a million things to see and do.  Most of which cost a pretty penny.  It would have been very easy to complain about not having the extra cash to run and just do all of those things, right?  Instead we reveled in the fact that the ocean front was a stones throw away.  We chose to show our kids the beauty in God's creation.  

     These two are just a couple of examples we bumped into.  Daily we were presented with forks in the road and daily we CHOSE thankfulness.  It's a choice we have to make constantly, whether at the beach or back in the real world.     
     An amazing perk is this, once you chose thankfulness, you naturally start looking for the blessings around you.  See this photo above?  I choose to believe it was a little show God put on for us.  Those dolphins just happened to appear right in front of our condo as I was sitting on the balcony enjoying being in the presence of the ocean.  I was looking for His blessing and being in awe of His creation.  My reward was seeing these creatures play in the waves.  Too often we are like the person in the photo above,  too busy looking down at our feet and missing awesome things in the process.

     Another amazing occurrence while we where there...we spent the mornings into early afternoon playing in the waves and sand and just enjoying things that didn't need a plug.  One of these days a complete stranger approached me on the sand.  She basically said "I've been watching you play with your kids.  I feel like God wants to bless you so I want you to have these" and handed me $200 worth of tickets to a local amusement park.  Now even in this HUGE blessing, there was a test.  When we got to the park, the person tried to tell us that since we didn't BUY the tickets, we couldn't use them.  While I mildly freaked out, my husband (who has an amazing ability to stay calm) talked to the manager and got them to take our tickets (they were unused, no reason for them not to) but even then, we could feel God saying "Choose the blessing".     
     I could go on and on about His goodness to us on this trip.  A little piece of my heart is there on that beach forever.  I sure hope we get to go back sometime (how about next week?) but for now, I am trying to stay on the path that leads me down blessings and Joy and further down the fork in the road He has chosen for me. 

I sincerely hope that if you are reading this, you have a blessed week, though not necessarily challenge free, but that you take the time to choose the blessing over the curse. 

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