This winter was unusually cold and miserable, so spring break couldn't come soon enough. It seemed that we had a timeshare that was about to 'expire' (don't get me started on the evils of timeshares) so we found a place in Las Vegas. Our kids are getting older so family vacations are a precious entity that gives us all a chance to reconnect for a week. We really had such a nice time and we saw some beautiful sights and spent hours laughing and talking and making memories, a much needed recharge for us all. However, while I was there not only did I have a remarkable time, but also I learned a few things that I couldn't wait to share. So here it goes, 3 lessons I learned in Las Vegas.
Lesson #1 Apparently God is Not Dead Now, as you all know I write about God and His amazing impact on our lives each week so the fact that I just learned that might make you question my sanity, that's understandable. However, in Las Vegas we all loaded up and went to see the new movie God's Not Dead. I know, most people don't go to Vegas to go to the movies, you can do that at home. But, I really had been looking forward to seeing it and I wanted us all to see it together and getting us all together for 2 hours can be a hard task at home, so away we went. Also, to add to the curiosity I had been receiving texts over the weekend that simply said 'God's Not Dead'. I knew it had to do with the movie so I couldn't wait to see what it was all about. On a side note, when I talked to my mom later about the text she had sent, she told me that she had sent it to my nephew as well and he sent her a reply that was priceless. He said back to her, 'Grandma, I never said He was!'. Too funny! Anyway, back to Las Vegas. We find a theater close by and buy our tickets and get a drink. I just want to insert here that apparently they sell dinner items at this particular theater and that for chicken fingers and fries it costs the guy in front of me $18.50!!!! Has he ever heard of Chic-fil-a? Again I digress. So we all venture to the door with the number 11 on it where our movie is playing and file in to the theater. I must say that I am quite shocked by how full the theater is. I mean, I would expect the Bible Belt to pack out a movie about God but in Vegas, I was surprised. We settle in to watch the movie and honestly I've been to very few movies that have had that much crowd interaction. People were gasping loudly, making comments like 'what?!' and breaking into applause and cheers when God's name was cleared. The packed theater, the emotional crowd and the movie itself impacted me. So, in Las Vegas I learned that despite the bright lights and gambling and drinking, God was not Dead, He was surely alive and He overcomes the 'stuff' of this world on a daily basis.
Lesson #2 What happens in Vegas does NOT stay in Vegas I don't get out much to be honest. Our idea of an exciting night is going to watch a friend play music at a new hamburger joint. So needless to say, the bright lights and craziness of the Las Vegas strip was more than I usually took in on a Friday night. Everywhere you turn there is someone trying to make a dollar, trying something different to get an edge on the market. There was advertising for sex or gambling at every turn. On a side note, if you ever go to Vegas don't take the little cards that the old ladies are handing out, they are not for a knitting class. Anyway, the slogan for Vegas is what happens there stays there so that opens people up to try things and do things and dress ways that they might not do in their suburbia home in the Midwest. Everyone needs a break from normalcy but what those slogan writers forget, or fail to mention, is that every action has a reaction. You eventually have to go home and you pack your bags, emotionally and physically, and head back with either a little more or a little less than you brought with you. So in Vegas, I learned that what I say and do, I need to think about first because I can never go back and unsay or undo something. For a feeler like me, that is a tough lesson. I may not gamble away my life savings or indulge in unsavory Las Vegas behavior but I can sure say something to someone I love that I can never take back. No action is without a reaction.
Lesson #3 I missed my dog way more than I should have There, I said it, go ahead and judge me. I had my whole family and some of my closest friends with me but towards the end of the week, I couldn't stop thinking about reuniting with my sweet little Ted. He is a bichon shih tzu mix with more personality than a lot of people I know. He loves me, like really, unconditional, can't get enough of you love. I know without a doubt that my family and close friends love me, but Ted shows his love for me in a way that there is no doubt about how he feels. When I walk through the door, no matter where he is, he comes charging out to greet me. I honestly don't think I've ever had a greeting that rivals the one that I get from him every time I walk in the house. Another love language that Ted and I share is quality time. He never leaves my side once I do come home. Some might find that annoying, I find it endearing and comforting. He really seems to care what I'm doing, I'm sure he just likes the company but I prefer to live in that 'just because he's a dog doesn't mean he doesn't have feelings' reality. One other aspect of our relationship is that when I'm away he mopes. He hides under a table and doesn't come out because he misses me and doesn't want to live if I'm not there to live with. Ok, I might be exaggerating a tad but once again that is the reality I prefer. But, what a great feeling to come home to this excited dog who your family says didn't move all day until you re-entered his life. There is no better compliment. So, what did I learn from my time away from Ted? I need to show people how I feel about them. I need to be that excited when I see those that I love return. I need to love them no matter what and spend time with them as if there is nothing in the world I'd rather do. I need to let them know when I miss them and look at them so they know it. Dogs get a bad rap because that whole not talking thing, but I think they have a lot to teach us. They are way better at relationships that we will ever be. So, in Vegas I learned that I need to be more like my dog.
We had a great week and the resting and rejuvenating was very much needed. I wouldn't trade family vacations for all the money we spend on them and more. But, I know that I didn't have to go on vacation to learn something, lessons are all around us. As I've said before, keep your eyes open and your heart ready because you can see God and the person he wants you to become, at every turn. Be ready!