our final day in florida was jam packed, of course. we started the morning off with breakfast then the "closing service" for the weekend. Deric, the director of IOH and husband to founder Kristen, took time to honor the volunteers. These folks paid their own way to spend 4 days with families in need and care for us and our kids. they pushed wheelchairs or strollers, carried backpacks, helped feed kids, waited in line, took pictures, watched our kids while we were in meetings, and sacrificially gave of their time and money to be there. they were all so nice. i'm partial to our friend, Jessica. she was fabulous. so on this morning after recognizing the volunteers Deric told us how they'd been working hard making something for us. each volunteer then brought their family a photo album they made. they didn't just throw some pictures in a book. although, if they had i would not complain. it was a scrapbook with paper and scripture and pictures. in 20 pictures it told the story of our two previous days. i totally cried. see, i knew jessica was taking pictures and we'd get them. but i was thinking we'd get a disc. i had no idea we'd get hard copies of pictures. i would have gotten the disc, uploaded them and that would have been it. instead, i have a fun scrapbook album plus about 40 other pictures i put in another album. i miss pictures. and now we can look through our albums any time. it was such a gift. that morning we also heard from Kristen. her story is incredible as she seems to be defying what the doctors tell her. this is her dream and it's an amazing dream. she is passionate about leaving a legacy for her 3 children and sharing that passion with us. you can go to the IOH website and see her video and read more about her story. Deric and Kristen are being used by God to love families who are facing some scary stuff...terminal illness and death. yet, they share a story of legacy and hope to these families. what they've created with these retreats is simply amazing. not only is it a family vacation for families who would otherwise not be able to have such a vacation. but it's a chance to connect with other families in similar circumstances and gives them the space to talk about the hard stuff. as well as making a legacy video and an opportunity to either begin or continue conversations with kids. we are so thankful we had the chance to go on this trip. it was just what we needed.
after the closing service we headed to Sea World. i was most excited about seeing dolphins. i love love love dolphins. clearly, a dream of mine is to swim with them. maybe one day. we were on our own today without jessica, so she could have a much needed break. we had less steam than the other days and the sky threatened rain. but we had another day to enjoy, so we got started. our first stop was this 3D Turtle movie. before we saw the movie we got to see Manetee and Sea Turtles. Manetee are HUGE. i mean, there was this one that was just so big. he just hung out there while a smaller (more fit one) swam by. i was amazed at their size. the movie was really cool...it was showing the life of a sea turtle from egg to old age. we jumped a few times at the 3 D creatures, especially the crab (or spider as Charis calls it) that attacked the baby turtle. after this we got seats for the Dolphin show. it was so so cool. dolphins are AHmazing. they were doing all sorts of crazy tricks with the people. i was fascinated and just took tons of pictures of them leaping out of the water and doing tricks. i bet the feeling of riding on one of them is just incredible. after the show we looked into a Dolphin experience thing where you can feed and touch the dolphins, but we didn't have time for me to do it. so we walked around looking for rides for charis...and found a small kiddie section. she and adam rode a ride similar to the tea cups and she clearly didn't like the spinning. at some point her head just lolled back as she spun. the only other options was a splash park and she had a blast here, running through the water, watching other kids and spraying them. it is always fun to watch her play. i mean, who can't find joy in kids playing!? i love it...the laughter and squealing and pure joy. after this we didn't have much time so we got some ice cream and a suvenier including a photo booth picture. i love photo booth pictures. and literally as we left the park the sky opened and it downpoured. off to the airport. i feel like we could have done and seen more at Sea World but we were just spent. seeing the dolphins was surely a thrill. i have no regrets.
|look how big that sucker is!|
|pure excitement. i love it!|
|there were birds in the dolphin show and landed right next to charis|
|dolphin flying...everything about them is cool|
|this guy is doing some fancy dolphin trick|
|grand finale with all the dolphins. yay!!|
|sea world carousel with sea creatures!!|
|you can see her head lolling back...poor thing :)|
|splash time=fun time|
|cuddle with daddy|