Friday, February 28, 2014

Hello, Sandi!

Tuesday was our first 'day at sea', and started with a question and answer session for the women only. Anita, Amy, Sheila, Angie, and Sandi were ready to answer our questions and share their words of wisdom.
The session was moderated by Sandi's adorable oldest daughter, Anna, who did a wonderful job keeping all the ladies in line.
It's fun, because we remember Sandi bringing Anna on stage when she was just a baby.
After the Q&A, there was a meet and greet time with Sandi and all of her friends. I was excited to meet Angie Smith. She had her new book, Chasing God, for sale, along with I Will Carry You, which is the story of her daughter Audrey.
I had brought some copies of her children's book, Audrey Bunny, and she graciously signed them for us. Ruthann had her picture taken with her.
And so did I. Such a sweet, sweet woman. Her twins were with her at the meet and greet, and they signed my book, too.
Then it was our turn to meet our friend Sandi. She noticed our t-shirts, and we told her all about them and Ruthann's cancer journey. We even brought a t-shirt along to give to her! (Of course we did!) I also gave her a little hanky holder that I had stoned with her name, and she loved it too. :)
We were talking all at once, and I'm pretty sure she didn't understand anything we said, but we had fun, and got a great photo with our friend. :)
Later in the day, I ran in to sweet Ellie Smith wearing her hat. They are precious and polite little girls.
We had lunch on deck near the seaside pool.
There is even a basketball court on board the ship. We did not play basketball.
There were line dancing lessons. We did not do that either. Just watched. I thought our Jonathan could have a future teaching line dancing on a cruise ship. The big guy in the orange is the activity director.

The evening program was Wayne Watson and Pastor Jim Lyon.
 Sandi and Wayne shared their song, In the In Between.
 And Sandi and Don ended with The Prayer. One of my favorites.
A great day full of fun and inspiration.
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Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Great Day at Half Moon Cay

Monday morning, we had a quick room service breakfast, and headed down for our morning devotions. We were greeted again by our friend Sandi, and led in devotions by Sheila Walsh.

After devotions, it was off to Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. It is a private island owned by the cruise line, and has crystal blue water and beautiful white sand beaches. Before the cruise, I had reserved a cabana for us, which is a little wooden beach building for four. It is open sided, but has an air conditioner and a fan, as well as light refreshments and rafts for floating in the sea. I reserved the taupe cabana, as close as they had to 'old gold.'
When we opened our ticket envelope, there was an optional upgrade that included a five course lunch and a butler. Why not?

Our butler, Amin, picked us up at our cabins and escorted us to the island. He even found us a way to bypass the long line for the tender boat. Yes please! We even managed to ride the same tender as Sandi and her family.

Amin took great care of us in our cabana, bringing food and drinks as needed. We had a delicious lunch, which included chocolate cake and a ‘drunken whale’ for dessert. 

He also entertained us with his napkin origami skills.

We soaked up the sun, floated in the blue water, and walked on the beautiful beach with our ship in the background.

A lovely day on the beach.

We returned to the ship in the afternoon, had time for a rest, then got dressed up for our evening program and dinner. I was excited about the program since it was Angie Smith and Selah. Selah has been one of my favorites for a long time, and I have seen them in concert in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. They are awesome. But before they took the stage, Angie Smith shared her story with the group. She is the wife of Todd Smith, who is the lead singer of Selah, so it was a two for one deal with them. They have four little girls who are with them on the cruise, and a fifth little girl, Audrey Caroline, in heaven. Angie is an author and speaker who shares Audrey’s story and inspires us with her words and her faith in the God who loves us through the storms.

I read Angie’s blog, and follow her tales of her little girls, and wanted to take them a little something for the cruise. I found floppy sun hats and had their initials embroidered on them. I gave them to Angie and the girls on Sunday night, and they were so sweet and appreciative. I even got hugs from the 11-year-old twins. It was fun.

 Kate already had a hat she was wearing, but she was still excited about her new pink one.

 After Angie shared, it was time for Selah. 
 I love this one of Todd and Angie's daughter Kate rocking' out to her dad's music.
They were awesome, as usual, and had some fun with the audience, including Sandi’s son Jonathan on their African number.

They also got Sandi’s husband Don up on stage to do an impromptu song with Todd. So much fun.
It felt almost like we were old friends as they went off script and just sang with us. They finished with ‘You Raise Me Up’, one of my favorites.

Sandi wrapped up the program by leading us in the Doxology with a big finish, to take us to dinner.

And it was morning, and it was evening, the second day. :)
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cruisin' With Sandi

We left Greensburg bright and early on Saturday for our great cruise adventure. Jim was the chauffeur for Janet, Ruthann, and I, and after we met Becky, we proceeded through security onto our plane bound for Ft. Lauderdale via Newark. Except we weren't. Oh we boarded the plane, and we taxied to the runway, only to return to the gate due to a bothersome noise on the airplane. After a little while at the gate, they asked us to get off the plane, and wait for further instructions.

I got in line and managed to come up with a new plan, new airline, and new connection city. Our reroute took us through Charlotte, with a much later arrival in Ft. Lauderdale, but we made it! We were entertained along the way by some of the college football players who had been in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine. I sat next to a nice young man named Brandon, who played for Miami (he knows Jimmy Graham). Behind us was Brian, who played for Florida State, and across the aisle was a player who played for Florida and Boston College. They all play offensive line, so, needless to say, they were big guys. They were anxious to enjoy a beer on the plane, and disappointed to learn that it was cash only. Of course they had no cash. I told them I would buy them a beer, and had my money out and ready, but the kind flight attendant took care of it herself. It was a nice flight.
Our room at the Hampton Inn was comfy, and our dinner at the sports bar nearby was interesting. There was a big cage fighting match on every screen in the place, and the fight was between two women. Apparently women's cage fighting is a thing. Who knew?

We managed to wind down after the fight and were ready for our shuttle on Sunday to take us to the port.
Our ride was a little long, because we made several stops along the way to drop off passengers on other cruise lines. Ours was the last stop.
 All aboard!
From our veranda, we could watch as we left Ft. Lauderdale.

 The coast guard boats were circling us as we left the port.
We found a spot to have a refreshment, a burger, and a photo bomb from Ryan, the waiter. He took good care of us.
Sunday evening, we had a welcome event, and Sandi Patty introduced us to her family. They were missing a few, but I am sure she is grateful for the blessing of having most of them here under one roof, er, smokestack.
She introduced the guests that will be with us this week.
Sheila Walsh.
 The hilarious Anita Renfroe.
 Wayne Watson.
 Selah (and some of their little helpers).
 That's Amy Perry and her son Josiah, and Todd Smith and one of his daughters, Kate.
Angie Smith will also be sharing with us, and Sandi brought their whole adorable family up on stage for introductions. She is one of my favorites.
Then Sandi took to the piano while her son, Jonathan, sang 'It is Well With My Soul', with help from sister Ali and sister-in-law, Katie. It was amazing!
That was just the first night! It has all been quite amazing and enjoyable so far, and I hope to post again before the week is over. I have pictures from our lovely day at Half Moon Cay on Monday, and tomorrow we will be spending the day on the beautiful and familiar Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman! Hope you all are having as much fun as we are!
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