A cruise, a hurricane, and a cup of coffee

I would have missed it.

The adventure. The laughter. The peace.

The story.

My husband hardly ever asks for anything. So, when he said he would really like to take our family on a cruise for our 20th anniversary several years ago, I knew this must be something he really wanted to do.

I had no desire to do this. Even after I reluctantly gave in, I was still quick to tell people when they would find out we were taking a cruise that “this must prove how much I love my hubby because I really don’t want to go.” I didn’t. I was afraid.

Afraid of…

losing a child overboard

getting sea sick

a repeat of the Titanic

feeling trapped with a bunch of people I didn’t know

hurricanes

but mostly… being in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight terrified me.

A few days before leaving I began watching the weather. I knew it. A tropical storm in the Caribbean that was turning into a hurricane. Ernesto. We should cancel. I bought the insurance! (Of course I did.)

We had serious talks about canceling up to the day we were leaving. But, I reluctantly agreed to go and just trust the cruise line to decide if they could sail or not. The hubs was pretty convincing that the captains do watch the weather, too.

Pulling up to the port was unbelievable. I had never in my life seen anything so large. The ship was HUGE. I thought, this thing will sink. It is too heavy. Then you add 4,000 people…

Anyway, I got on. First things first. I check the height of the railings, give my kids a stern talking to about ‘not even one foot comes off the ground near them,’  and then we go eat. Because that’s what you do on a cruise. After eating and enduring the safety drill – ok, at least now I have a plan for who gets which kid if we are going down – we head to the deck to wave goodbye to the strangers walking on the pier. Because, that’s what you do on a cruise.

We are leaving. No turning back. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I open my eyes to see dolphins skimming the water alongside of us. Ok, this might not be so bad. I love dolphins!

That night we all take our ginger tablets to prevent motion sickness, because that’s what you do on a cruise, and we had a lovely dinner before heading to bed. The gentle rocking of the ocean was wonderful. So calming. So peaceful.

The next morning I woke to my worst fear. No land in site. And it was…

Weirdly wonderful.

oceanThe ocean had magically gone from brown-ish in the gulf to this beautiful deep blue. There were small ripples on the surface. It was the most incredible thing I had ever seen.

We had coffee on the deck that morning. And I thought to myself that I was so crazy for ever being scared of this. It was the most peaceful place I had ever sat.

Such a wonderful day. We went to bed.

Ok, this is it. I was sure we were going down! We wake at 2:00 in the morning to the creaking of metal as it rises and lowers not so gently into the ocean, our closet door uncontrollably opening and shutting on its own, and the wind. Oh my. I am from West Texas and I have heard wind. But there was something so powerful in the sound of the wind in those early morning hours. You can’t see anything outside because without the moon, it is pitch black in the middle of the ocean. I was scared.

As soon as the sun rose, we were outside. We did better staying in the fresh air. We found out tropical storm Ernesto was now a Category 2 hurricane and we were cruising around him. The itinerary was getting switched up a bit, but we were assured we were just fine.

Ummmm, no. We are not. We are in the middle of the ocean, in a hurricane! This is not ok.

The ship that day was a ghost town. hurricaine

Most of the people stayed in their rooms just because their stomachs wouldn’t allow them to go too far.  We hung out on the upper deck, watched the rain pour down, the pool emptied itself out due the the rocking of the boat, and we knew – what a cool story we will have to tell! (Of course, we had to survive first.) We laughed so much that day.

And were all reminded of the mighty power of God.

That night, we went to bed praying for the rocking of the boat to be calmed. And it was.

The next morning was beautiful. The ocean was rolling with gentle waves and the sun was shining. The Lord was gracious.

The rest of that week was wonderful. We para-sailed over the turquoise waters of the Cayman Islands, celebrated our 20th anniversary by zip-lining in the lush jungles of Jamaica, and swam with dolphins in Cozumel!

The morning of the last full day of our cruise I got up early, grabbed my cup of coffee, and sat outside on the upper deck alone. Just me, a few flying fish, a sunrise on the water, and the Creator.

Wow. It hit me while drinking that cup of coffee ~ if fear would have won…I would have missed this. All of this.

I would have missed the adventure. I would have missed seeing first hand the mighty hand of God that controls the winds and waves. I would have missed the stories.

I would have missed learning that the very place I feared the most, is now where I feel safest in the world ~ the very middle of the ocean with no land in sight. It is the sweetest reminder of His power and control and that I just need to be still, and trust.

Don’t let fear keep you from going places you know you should go, or doing things you know you should do.

Four cruises later I can say ~ You could be missing out on some of the best views of your life.

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