Women in Pain

woman-in-painWhen will the war on women cease? When will the day come when men and women can tend the same garden and value one another as gifts to that very garden of needful earth? I look at the  world through articles and news stories and I sigh. It saddens me to see so much brutality vectored towards those whose wombs sustain all of us. Just this morning I viewed a video story in the New York Times of Saudi women’s right to vote and run for municipal office. On the one hand it was encouraging that Saudi women were striving to make reality a right many of us in the West take for granted. On the other hand, it broke my heart as I watched how little regard Saudi men had for women, how these men treated women and reacted to women’s presence like the plague. What I saw in the New York Times video was not just the outplay of centuries of tradition, it was willful hatred of wives, mothers, and daughters. It was cloaked as acquiescence to a model of cultural life in Saudi Arabia but what I saw was the sanctioned brutalization of women on physical, emotional, and mental perspectives. How and why are Saudi men so weak? How did this happen and why has it persisted for so long? Why do I even care you ask?

I cannot answer the first two questions, but I can tell you why I care so much about this. I care about this because the cultural dissonance I perceive in Saudi Arabia mirrors what I see in American culture. Let me explain. Yes, in America women have the right to vote and run for elected office and they do so in droves. Yet, their vote counts for very little. Absurd?? Not really, you see while women vote in record numbers and hold many, many elected offices, they continue to earn less than men and they continue to labor under laws that dictate what they do with their own bodies. Women in America are allowed to be raped at will and whenever there is a prosecution for their rape, the consequences tell the rest of men in our society that rape culture is insulated and secure. In America, we continue to fortify institutions that promulgate systemic processes that devalue women. Porn. Porn is a virus that pervades all of our social venues for entertainment and capitalism. We buy, sell, and entertain with one common theme and that is that sex sells and the objects of our capitalist machinations is the female form. It doesn’t even matter the age of the female, she is of value only to the extent that we can make use of her physical attributes. We measure her and judge her stats and we enslave her body for our own pleasures. So how is this any different from what and how Saudi men treat women?

So I write this as a way of venting my disappointments in how little we have progressed as a male dominated society. Viewing the political climate and the possibility that a true misogynist may be elected to the office of President of the United States serves to validate my perspective. 

I won’t even discuss ethnicity or race hear. I will save that for another day when I have far more energy than I do today.

 

A Lie for the Truth

False ReligionA Lie for the Truth

I really have been trying not to go here but I feel compelled to. I know that in past posts I said that it wasn’t necessary to defend your faith by arguing and fighting as the world does. I still believe this to be true, but after prolonged interactions on various Google+ communities, I am flabbergasted!!! I am at a loss as to why people believe what they do about God. The ideas, the lines of thinking, the beliefs run a range too vast to really describe here! People, so many of the people I have encountered have literally chosen to believe a lie for the truth.

It could be that I have just been living in a bubble, nice and warm, convinced that there was a vast majority of people that, while not exactly synched with me concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ, believed certain essential core truths. Boy was I wrong! The divide is huge and as time progresses the gap is getting wider. I haven’t cornered the market on truth and in my opinion there is but one truth: Jesus Christ is Lord! Given this, I could never just accept a bold lie for the truth.

Actually I shouldn’t be surprised by this. The bible, oh by the way, there are a great many people out there that don’t hold any reverence whatsoever for the bible, describes these last days very clearly. I shouldn’t be surprised that “right” is steadily being re-defined as “wrong” and vice versa. There are no boundaries and as time progresses, the very thing that helped us hold a clear path is being undermined. If you think the bible is nothing but a bunch of fairy tales and made up stories and you still call yourself a Christian, something is very, very wrong. But to just believe a lie is the truth!!!??? As a Christian, how do you do this?

The latest argument that has my head spinning is that since the bible was written by False Religion 2sinful, fallen men, it can’t be trusted, that the mistakes that are inherent to human nature have ruined and jaded any good that could come from using the bible as an authoritative source for living in this world. I’m just old fashion. If God said it I believe it and it doesn’t matter who He used in the Holy Scriptures to convey this truth. Call me a fool but I’d rather err on the side of the Almighty than take a risk with the philosophical proclivities of fallen humanity. A lie can never be truth! Notice I didn’t say a lie cannot be true. Lies are true all the time. People spew them by the boat load but the same cannot be said for truth. Truth stands no matter what you or I do or say. Yet some would rather believe a lie for the truth because, because, because….I have no idea!

It just blows my mind but at the same time I do realize that people aren’t just going to take the bible at face value, especially when there have been countless interventions by religious bodies to shape and mold the bible to their purpose. I also acknowledge that there are some things in the bible that simply do not make sense without context, without spiritual insight, and with a modern day prism of examination. I also acknowledge that our understanding of the historical texts is impeded by modern technology which actually hinders us from seeing through the eyes and experiences of those who lived during biblical times. Yes, technology has helped us retrieve and review that which was before, but it has also dulled our spiritual eyes and ears. We hardly know how to seek Him for ourselves without assistance from the Internet!!

Given all of that, one thing endures that helps me navigate these difficulties. I have my faith so in reality I don’t need any empirical evidence to embrace the bible as true. For me a lie will never be truth. What really helps me is knowing that despite the ages, the decades and centuries that have passed, God’s Word still found me! His Word, despite the best efforts of religious organizations and bodies untold, still changed my life and opened for me the door to eternal life in Jesus Christ!! If that isn’t proof enough that the bible is real, that His Word is true, that nothing else really matters in this life as long as He is in me and I in Him, then nothing is. A lie for the truth is just a lie.

But as for me and my house…we will continue to trust and belief in the Lord God of our salvation and His Word!!!

A Reason for the Hope

Reason for the Hope

A Reason for the Hope

1 Peter 3:14–16 says:

“14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (KJV).

A more modern translation of the same reads:

“If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath” (The Message).

Or more conventionally:

“14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, 15 but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame” (Holman Christian Standard Bible).

I was prompted to write this post because of what I had been reading online with regard to attacks on the Christian faith. I have noticed more and more how hostile people become when they write a post confronting a believer online. They always want to know why or what is the Reason for the Hope we hold to. I’m not terribly surprised by this but it struck me for some reason how savagely some people will attack your faith. The question then is how should we respond? What is a reasonable answer for the hope we hold in our hearts?

A recurring theme by many nonbelievers, atheists in particular, is that Christians are stupid individuals, gullible, easily duped by fairy tales and made up stories. They attack with vigor the existence of the Almighty and anyone who subscribes to a belief in His presence and His gospel is a fool. Many times I have seen them attack the sanity of Christians and demand a Reason for the Hope we have in our hearts for what Jesus Christ has promised. They routinely posit that our arguments for the existence of God, our faith in Jesus Christ or our desire to follow Church teaching is based on fallacy and error, that we err because we cannot prove our case in any natural sense. They seek proofs based in science and the scientific method and when we do not offer any, they take this as a sure sign that we have not a foot to stand on.

I Peter 3:14-16 admonishes believers to be ready to respond to critics and unbelievers and to do so with humility and a meek heart. Our response should be reasoned but without malice. The essence of the passage in my opinion is that we must be ready at all times to defend why we love our Lord and why we place our hope in Him. We should be able to explain why we love Him. We should be able to say why our hope for eternal life, a better life, a happier and more fulfilled life, both now and in the hereafter, rests with Him. What is the Reason for the Hope we have?

The passage doesn’t tell us to argue with unbelievers. The passage doesn’t say that we are to fight against people in word or deed about their skepticism. We are instructed to give a Reason For the Hope we have. Here is why I think the passage tells us to give a Reason for the Hope we have or defend our hope in Christ with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:16): anger is a fear response. Anger is provoked out of weakness and insecurity neither of which should a Christian harbor if they are resting in Jesus Christ who has not given us the spirit of fear but of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). You argue and fight with someone when you only rely on yourself and you feel over matched. You don’t fear when you are confident of the outcome or when victory is already guaranteed right? So the passage is about resting in the sure knowledge of your salvation; thusly, you don’t have to fear and argue with unbelievers about this faith you have. You can respond in humility because you know what you have received and you realize what the opposition is missing out on, that God’s grace would so abound in your life as to bathe you in eternal life when you rightly deserved death and this is humbling.

So minus fear, we are free to speak of our heartfelt love for Him who first loved us. We are free to discuss the bloom in our life since coming into the truth and hearing the good news. We can give our Reason for the Hope we have in Jesus Christ in confidence. We are free to defend our right to embrace the free gift of God. Bottom line is we believe because we have a free will and God has graciously given to each of us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) so that with what little we have, we can gain all!!
So don’t take these attacks personally. You have a right to believe in God and no one can take that away from you. Share your joy with whoever asks, share your hope and love with whoever questions you, but never fear that your answer will be inadequate. There is no wrong answer to the question of why you believe in Jesus Christ!! Also remember this one last thing. I Peter 3:14-16 does not instruct us to defend God!!! The Father is more than able to defend Himself. He has that well covered I believe. All He asks of us is to share our hope with them that don’t have hope. Speak from your heart and take comfort in His grace. Your Reason for the Hope and love you have for God will be sufficient for the task.

Sharing Is Caring

Sharing is Caring

Sharing Is Caring

I have been reading and listening and contemplating many of the discussion outlets and forums concerned with the Affordable Care Act.  Arguments are all over the map.  Passions for and against are high and all parties seem unequivically solid in their conviction about the good or bad of the new healthcare law.  Common ground is extremely rare in many of these discussions, but I want to point out that sharing is caring and that is what we should be about as an evolved and compassionate society.

What seems to be missing from many of the discussions I have seen is compassion, compassion for the guy or gal next door, the single parent, the child of that single parent and so on.  There doesn’t seem to be much room for inclusion of the least among us these last days.  The discussion always seems to center on an objection to paying for something that doesn’t directly benefit me…the individual.

I was listening to a radio discussion on the Diane Rehms show on NPR and they were talking about how many people were upset about having to buy a healthcare policy that included benefits not directly related to them or their condition, i.e. a guy having to buy a policy that covers child birth.  I can understand the confusion but I think the point is being missed.  United we stand but divided we fall remember and sharing is caring in my book.  Having compassion for someone other than yourself is what I deem a signature facet of a superior society.  It’s the healthy society that survives the longest and when we get to the point where we only think about what’s in it for me, well then we’re on our way to oblivion.

I believe we are stronger when we consider the whole and not just the individual.  I believe we are most ready to stand the tests of time as a society, as a species, if we ensure that there is no weak link in our chain of humanity.  So yes, it may cost more to buy a healthcare plan but in the long run it is actually cheaper for the whole of society because it’s always been easier to stop the bleeding when a pin prick is all we have to deal with vice a severed artery.  When we don’t take care of the least among us, we will over time have to tend to those who have been gravely wounded via neglect at grave cost, a cost that could have and should been avoided.  In today’s world can we really afford to not care about one another?

Personally, I would just like to give the new healthcare law some time.  The program website certainly needs some major help but I’m an optomist.  I believe it will get fixed and eventually we will all see some good results, results that will benefit the whole and not just the individual.  Sharing is caring and that is a joyous message that we might want to remember especially during these holidays.

Cancel that Date with Hate

Cancel the Hate 4Cancel the Date with Hate

So what do you do when faced with someone under the influence, the influence of hate? I say Cancel that Date with Hate. There is nothing written in any book, in any song, in any form whatsoever, that mandates that you have to subject your life spirit to hate’s poison. We sometimes are faced with so much hatred, so much bitterness, so much anguish and turmoil that our spirit driven lives get bogged down, even sullied occasionally.  We can sometimes inadvertently become magnets to such negative energy when we ourselves start to wear clothing not meant for us, when we discard the whole armor of God.

During this very political season and the one to follow, you will see the enemy’s horns more and more and in almost every place you look.  Reading through various social media sites it’s very easy to spot.  People don’t really discuss the pro and cons of a thing, they just scream blindly at one another, casting disparaging remarks upon one another, using the vilest of language and the anonymity of the Internet as a cover.  And if you dare to step in, participate, comment from a corner tempered in reason, you will certainly experience the hatred first hand.  I think because of the anonymity of the Internet, people are emboldened to be as rude as possible, as hurtful as possible, and spew as much hate laced hyperbole around as possible.

But the Internet isn’t the only medium where this red devil shows its tail.  You see it on the highways and byways, the street corners and office spaces we encounter in our daily grind.  It’s the whispers and the mean spirited comments that are spoken when speakers think no one is listening.  You see it even on the play grounds and classrooms all across America.  It’s unavoidable as long as one draws breath. The longer one is exposed to so much negative energy, the more likely they will lose focus on that which is good, on true life, on the promises that lie ahead.  So I say Cancel that Date with Hate.  Let someone else take up that dance card.

What do you do when the enemy attempts to destroy you, belittle you, and push you down into submission?  This after all is one of hates many objectives.  Some might say you punch him in the nose and teach him not to mess with you!  How many bullied children do you think that actually works for?  How many little guys, when faced with a towering pile of fat, muscle and intimidation, rise up, cock back and launch a haymaker smack into the nose of their antagonist?  Odds are that there are very, very few that do and succeed.  Why?  Human nature?  Fight or flight instincts?  Common sense?  All of the above?  So if the little guy does go on the offensive, the majority of the time he…or she is going to get their clock punched because the bully normally has the numbers and the size and the experience.  Whenever this tactic does work it’s because of the element of complete surprise and timing.  So how then do you Cancel that Date with Hate?

Cancel the Hate 3

Easy.  The Word of God says that if we resist the devil he will flee from us (James 4:6-8).  Does this mean that we lay hands and fight the devil?  Is this what is meant by resistance?  Not necessarily.  You resist by refusing to participate in those activities that enrich the enemy.  When you submit your life to God you are resisting the enemy.  When you draw closer to God, He comes closer to you (James 4:7).  Darkness will never be able to overcome light, never has and never will (John 1:5).  The enemy cannot withstand the presence of God in your life.  There will always be an over balance and overabundance of power in you when God is in you…and the enemy knows this (I John 4:4).  The bully may be a roaring lion but that is all that he is.  He knows his end and you must remind yourself of that elegant truth as well.

But how exactly do I Cancel the Date with Hate?  Hatred is one of those emotions that craves company.  So practice resisting the enemy by walking with the Lord and steer clear of those filled with hate.  Don’t participate, don’t engage, don’t touch and agree on statements of hate, and don’t even walk in the same paths as those that revel in hate’s toxic atmosphere.  Don’t be drawn in.  In other words don’t expose your goodness to darkness (Matthew 7:6), don’t lay down your integrity or your good name.  The playground bully can’t be a bully if there is no one to bully.  The playground bully draws strength from fear but perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18) and God is that love!  When you draw nigh unto God, when you find your secret place in Him, His shadow will be your cover, your protection and insulation from all the fiery darts of the enemy (Palms 91:1; Ephesians 6:16).

Cancel the Hate 2

Last, when confronted by the hatred of others in whatever form, remember who you are.  Remember who is at work in the life of the hate speaker.  Confront hate with the peace of the Lord God Jesus Christ.  Turn the other cheek and by this I mean, refuse to engage in a verbal confrontation.  Use your tongue to speak life and that more abundantly.  Use your tongue to create a new reality, a new condition in the life of the hate speaker and then exercise your will upon that which you have spoken.  Pray on that planted seed and watch it grow and produce new life in that which was dead.  This is how you Cancel the Date with Hate.  The enemy won’t get it, he won’t understand it, but he will flee from you and in his place…a garden of peace abides!

Encourage Your Child

Blog Pic-MeEncourage Your Child

How many of you remember saying to yourself way back when you were knee-high to a wolverine (not that you ever go that close to measure) that you would never do this or that to your children when you became a parent?  Statements like this may have been made in the moments after a butt whipping or chastisement as we say in today’s vernacular.  You may have felt wronged for the punishment you received, and of course because you were just a child your ability to see the big picture extended only as far as your toy box or TV!  The reasons we were punished never made sense since all we were doing was having fun…true, the cat or neighbors dog paid the price but we’re not talking about that right now!

Most of the time after we were disciplined (whupped as we say in my house) and went to sleep, a normal side effect of a good whupping, we would be fine and all was forgotten.  It was again time to play.  Who had time to remember what we were disciplined for.  Day light was burning!  There were girls’ hair waiting to be pulled!!!

But there are also those times when the discipline can go too far, not just in terms of physical abuse, at least not in my case, but in terms of the emotional pain inflicted.  Punishing or disciplining in the heat of anger is always a bad idea.  For one, the risk of doing actual physical harm increases.  Two, when words are spoken in anger they can be just as harmful, hurtful, and painful as the physical discipline.  It is usually the words that are remembered the most and have the longest effect on a young mind.

So perhaps a change in tactics is called for.  I know, sometimes it’s hard to keep your temper in check and this kettle will refrain from describing the pot as black in color!  And yes, I understand that stress can play a huge role in how we react to different things.  When our children get in trouble we tend to fall back on what we experienced growing up.  We do what we saw.  We say what we heard and it’s almost instinctive.  We may even know subconsciously that there is a better way but our first reaction is normally what we go with unless we train ourselves to do differently.

I remember saying to myself after receiving my punishment that I wouldn’t do my kids this way.  I would treat them differently.  I would do this or that better.  I was not concerned with the purpose behind the discipline or the love that spurred it.  At the time I couldn’t see that my mother’s efforts were keeping me out of jail and an early grave.  I was a selfish child and only understood my point of view and my immediate goals.

When I became a father by the grace of God, I started disciplining the same way I was.  I was going to put the fear of God into my children.  I was not going to spare the rod and spoil them.  I didn’t know that there was another way, even though I promised myself growing up that I would do things differently.  Then it dawned on me…my greatest improvements, my best achievements, always occurred after my mother lavished praise and encouragement on me.  I always did better when I knew my dad was in the stands watching me play football and cheering me on.  I always rose to the occasion when I needed to take tests because I knew it would make my mother smile to see my name on the dean’s list!  Encouragement and not fear was the difference.

I still believe there is a place for stern discipline, but I have also come to understand that encouraging your child can be just as effective as the rod of correction.  I wouldn’t say throw away the rod, but I would say we need to balance its use with the following ratio: 1:7, that is, for every application or occurrence of the rod pour on seven doses of encouragement or praise.  As a rule, if you can’t think of seven things to praise your child for, then put the rod away as the instrument of discipline and find another way.

You can encourage your child to do better, be better and aspire to greater things.  Speak encouragement into their ears, into their spirit, into their whole lives and you will change them for the better.  Your words have power, use this power for good and not evil.

Guard Your Prosperity

Guard your prosperity 4Guard Your Prosperity

Seeing your way through a major problem isn’t always easy and once you do, you should work just as hard to preserve your victory!  Often times people do not want to see your success.  They may mouth the words that say otherwise but many times hard feelings are formed against what you have achieved.

I can’t pretend to know what is in every man’s heart, but actions speak louder than words.  Just look at your circle of friends and acquaintances and ask yourself whether there is a change in the air when you come into great success or break throughs. What happens when you share your good news with others?  What words are spoken into your ear?  Do they affirm your blessings or do they naysay?

When you have fought hard to form a positive self image, a new answer to a persistent problem, or some vision of health and wealth for you and your family, don’t let the enemy snipe at it.  Don’t cast these pearls before those who despise good things.  Guard your prosperity, make sure that no one tears down what you have fought to build up.

In your mouth are the keys to change and faith.  In the mouth of those not aligned with your vision are the keys to your demise and that of your dreams.  You have to learn to distance yourself from those whose dreams run counter to your own.  Two people cannot truly walk together unless they agree.  Make sure that you walk the path set before you, the one you have envisioned, the one that leads to greater prosperity and purpose.  If someone is walking with you but is speaking and believing counter to your purpose and destiny, your own path will become confused.  You may even find yourself straying from purpose, your purpose, and walking in someone else’s path.

I think this is what often happens.  People get lead astray and start adopting someone else’s vision, then they get despondent when their life is convoluted, unproductive and indebted.  How can you prosper following someone else’s vision and purpose?  If you do this, your own prosperity will languish and so will you.  You won’t live up to your own potential.  This is what you often see when you encounter complainers and people full of bitterness.

Guard your prosperity 3

So I say Guard your prosperity.  Protect it, cherish it and nurture it by devoting time to concentrate on what you have envisioned.  Build a habit of reaffirming your vision and don’t share it with everybody.  People can see your prosperity from afar and learn from your methods after the fact, but while your developing your vision guard your prosperity carefully.  If you have a vision board, great, but don’t post it or display it for public scrutiny.  It is your vision.  Make sure you see it.  No one else needs to see it.  I say this because when others see what you have envisioned for yourself, they ask questions.  These questions can sometimes be very negative and demotivating.  This is because they don’t understand your vision and how do people react to things they don’t understand?  They oppose them, they strike out against them and attempt to dismantle them and make you feel silly for having such passion and vision.

Questions from these type of people can have a real debilitating effect on your spirit and your vision.  These questions can appear to be harmless at first.  Someone might ask, “do you really think it’s a good idea to see that job making $350,000 a year”, or “why buy a Mercedes?  People who buy those care only about image.  You don’t want to be that person do you?”  When you hear questions like this what does it do to what you have dreamed about?  It is deflating.

Guard your prosperity 6So cast off the naysayers and guard your prosperity.  Your dreams are yours and they have come into your life just for you.  Relish them and see yourself walking in the prosperity God intended for you to have.  Let the naysayers sit and spin!!!  You roll out in your Mercedes filled with the knowledge that $350,000 is sitting in the bank at your disposal!!!

Voyage Complete!!

Cruise Vacation

So after a fantastic Eastern Caribbean cruise, my wife and I are back home and I am back at work (sad face).

It took me a good half hour just to get my head situated and my attitude readjusted to being back in the office!  What an adjustment too!  I want to get back on the boat!!!

We had a blast and I highly recommend that if you get a chance to take a cruise, do it.  I have no negative comments about the cruise other than I wish we would have had more money to spend and more clothes to wear!

We visited Half Moon Cay, Puerto Rico, St Thomas and Grand Turk with two fun days at sea.  There are so many things to do onboard ship you can’t get bored unless all you want to do is stay in your stateroom.  Some of the cruise packages can be pricey but I still believe they are a great bargain.  My wife had a ball.  Now, if you ask her about her experience on St Thomas, you may hear the story about being biten by white crabs and fish.  If you really want to know what happen ask me…I was there and saw it all (smile).  She may even try to change the subject and talk about how this older, stately gentlemen took a tumble while crossing a perfectly good street…in front of all of God’s creation!!  I won’t mention any names but I believe he was thouroughly embarassed…skinned knees and all!

Cruise Vacation 2

There are just a few things you need to know before going, things I wish we would have known prior to our trip:

One:  Be prepared to bring enough money to account for gratuities, taxis, phone calls made onboard ship, and shopping on ship and in the various ports.  You should be ready to load up your initial account card (Carnival calls these Sail & Sign cards) with at least $500 at a minimum.  We started with $200 and went over!  The gratuities are charged to your account card and can amount to $11.95 per day.  This is split between three servers who take care of your room, etc.  I have no problem with this because we got great service and personally I think they should have received more.  Everything you purchase on the ship and in some of the ports is charged to your Sail & Sign card so the more you set it up with the more flexibility you will have.

Two: Either be prepared to pay to have your clothing laundered or bring plenty of stuff to wear. Laundering is available on ship but it can be costly.  You don’t need to bring a bunch of fancy things to wear other than what you would wear for the Captain’s dinner (tie and coat, gowns for the women).  Everything else should be suited for beach excursions and fun in the sun.

Three: Do your homework prior to the cruise.  I wish I would have researched the destinations better because we would have saved money and chose our excursions more wisely.  You can purchase the excursions onboard but they are often cheaper out in the port.  If you like to chart your own course and get off the beaten path I say go for it but you need to know where you’re going and how to travel.  Know beforehand what currency you’re likely to need.  The Sail & Sign card is no good outside of the ports so spare cash is always handy.  In the Caribbean the US dollar is supreme!

Last: Ditch fear and take the plunge.  I’ve never touched a sting ray or parasailed, but I will next time!  There were great opportunities for diving and adventure but I just didn’t take advantage of them.  Lesson learned!

Overall, taking a cruise for a vacation is an amazing thing.  Get on one as soon as you can!  I will post more pictures from our vacation soon.