Cosmopolitan Luggage Review | Personal Item

Ok, I did it.

It’s all booked.

The car.

The Disney tickets.

The flights…

…with NO LUGGAGE!

Yes, we are taking the kids on vacation in December to Florida.

I’m serious. I love vacation. I love organizing it. I love experiencing it. Maybe most of all, I love figuring out the challenges of finding the best prices and packing in the most efficient way.

I really want to save for a Disney cruise, but until I wrap my head around spending 2 years’ worth of vacation resources on one trip, it’s not going to happen. Although, we did go to Israel, so I guess anything can happen.

Let’s get back to the topic of luggage.

You all know how much I like to save money, so once again Spirit came through with $50 flights. You also probably know that if you want luggage (including a carry-on), you have to pay for it.

I opted out.

That means that I have the challenge of packing 4 people in 4 pieces of underseat luggage!

18″ x 14″ x 8″, to be exact.

I thought the challenge was going to be packing, but I’ve come to realize that the real challenge is going to be finding the perfect underseat luggage.

It seems that there’s no standard underseat luggage size, so I was out to find one specific to the exact allowance for Spirit.

After much searching, I found one.

Yes, only one.

The sad part is that I can’t even find it online – only in-store at Wal-Mart in Canada.

Nonetheless, I found it.

It is exactly 18″ x 14″ x 8″!

That means that I will be able to maximize my packing!

It retails for $69.97 CDN, which is reasonable, but still on the higher end of reasonable.

I’ll explain why.

The stitching and manufacturing have a few flaws, but nothing that I’m upset about. The lining has some exposed rough edges, the stitching has some inconsistencies and one of the wheel housings is attached on a slight angle (but doesn’t affect the wheel moving).

These are the only cons and are all things I can live with as it will be in my care/hands at all times. Plus, I’m not super rough on my luggage. If this was checked luggage, or even a carry-on, it would be a different story.

Let’s get to the pros of this piece!

I love the look and colour of it – quilted black with rose gold zippers/accents. The interior is a soft pink and it’s so pretty and girly.

It has a hidden telescopic handle that extends 27″ (42″ from the ground). The handles are large enough that you can carry the bag like a purse on your arm or shoulder, or lift it like a bag with your hands.

There are 3 compartments, plus 2 mesh pockets on each side of the bag.

The main compartment is huge. I will be able to fit ample clothes/shoes/accessories for our 10-day vacation (comment below if you’d like to see a video on how I pack). There are 3 pockets inside the main compartment that you can use for undergarments, toiletries and/or documents.

The second compartment unzips and has a padded section for a small laptop/iPad. It also has a pocket for a phone and 4 slots for papers/ID. There is also a mesh pocket on the flap-side.

The third one is a single zipper-pocket with lots of space for cords or anything similar.

All of the hardware seems to be good quality. The zippers are thick and heavy-duty, and the wheels are similar to roller blade ones.

The dimensions are exact to Spirit’s allowance, so it will probably be a tight fit. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little worried about how exact it is, especially because I just realized that the wheels stick out about 1/2″. It’s not a hard shell, so it seems to be easily squishable.

What do you think? Should I keep it or keep looking?

Carnival Magic | Cruise Review

It’s no secret that we went on a cruise.

It was pure bliss.

Well, after the first 2 nights.

Then it was pure bliss.

Let’s just say, when you travel during hurricane season, you are almost guaranteed to have at least a little rain.

…and maybe some rocky waves.

We traveled on the Carnival Magic (October 2018). Like always, we booked this cruise last-minute directly through Carnival. We left from Miami and our ports of call were:

  • Amber Cove, Dominican Republic
  • St. Thomas, USVI
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos

Stateroom

We stayed in a deluxe ocean view stateroom on the first floor. Many people don’t like the thought of staying on the first floor, but there are so many great things about it – like, being able to get on/off the boat quickly because you don’t have to wait for an elevator to take you to the gangway.

This was by-far the biggest stateroom we have ever stayed in. There was the massive window sill that you could sit on and watch as we pulled into port. We also had a king-size bed (could be separated to be 2 singles), a couch that turned into a trundle-bed and a bunk above the couch. On top of all of that space, we also had a double restroom – 1 full restroom with a shower and a 2nd one with a sink and tub/shower. Across from the couch was the desk area, and beside that, we had 4 separate closets.

So, even though you don’t spend very much time in your cabin, this one was more than enough room to party.

Food

Most people know that I’m partial to NCL because of the food (amongst other things), but I have to say, Carnival did not disappoint. The very first thing we tried was Guy’s Burger Joint – DELISH!!! I think I had a burger/fries every single day.

The dining room was ok. I wasn’t super wowed by it, but it was decent. There was only one night where I took one bite and was turned off by it – they offered to bring me something else, but after that first bite I was finished eating altogether. Except for dessert.

Yes, dessert.

I stayed sugar-free for this cruise, which is honestly getting so much easier. The sugar-free options were absolutely stunning! There was not one that I didn’t like! I should’ve asked what they sweetened them with because there were no adverse side effects that followed. If you’ve ever over-eating a sugar-free dessert, you know what I’m saying.

All in all, the food was delicious.

Ship

Here is where I get a bit partial. I don’t care for smaller boats, skinny boats, large boats or older boats. Maybe I’m a boat snob, I don’t know. Anyway, I find smaller, skinnier, older boats is where you’ll probably find the most opportunity to enjoy sea-sickness. Not my cup of tea, although I don’t get sea-sick very easily. Then, large boats seem too much like a floating city and I don’t want that either. I still want to know that I’m cruising the ocean.

So, all that to say that this boat was one of the rockiest I had ever been on, although I don’t think it was entirely due to its size. I’m still trying to do some research into stabilizers and what makes some boats rockier than others, comment below if you have any insight. I’m sure the tropical depression we were cruising into had some to do with that (we enjoyed storms for a few hours for the first 2 nights), but it wasn’t the first time we have traveled into a tropical storm/hurricane either.

As far as the layout of the ship, it was pretty decent. Everything was easy to find and get to. The water slides were a lot of fun, but made me dizzy for sure! My absolute favourite deck was the Serenity deck (adults only), because they had hammocks/swings, cabanas, padded lounge chairs and a beautiful breeze that kept us from overheating.

Spa

I’m saddened to say that we decided not to get the spa package, although it was quite reasonable with their couple’s rate. We did tour the spa, though, and it had a few steam rooms, salt rooms and a thalassotherapy pool. My only qualm – and my deciding vote on not purchasing it – was that the views were extremely limited. I guess the peaceful view of the ocean is a big deal to me when I’m relaxing.

As for the gym, I didn’t actually go. AHHH! Shocker, I know, but we decided to take the stairs all week, which was a lot of exercise since we were on deck 1.

Ports of Call

This section could be a whole blog post on its own, so for now I will give a very brief summary.

This was the first time we visited 3 of the 4 ports as we have been to St. Thomas a few times before. I love St. Thomas and feel comfortable enough to hail our own cab and head to the beach for some snorkeling. The taxi was $10/person each way.

I was most disappointed with Amber Cove because we didn’t book an excursion and the port was locked down so we couldn’t charter any locals to do anything. We walked around the shops in the port, but I didn’t feel like we got to see anything of value.

My favourite was Old San Juan because we could walk everywhere on our own. It was stunning with all of the colourful buildings and the forts were simply amazing! It was $7/person for the forts and it only took us (less than) 20 minutes to walk between them.

Grand Turk was also a great highlight! I love the beach, and the water was crystal clear. Simply stunning. The beach is literally right off the pier (and goes on for miles), but I was grossed out by the thought of swimming directly in front of the cruise ship. Also, it was crowded, so we walked down the beach and rented some peaceful beach chairs for $5 each. It’s not beneath me to pay for peace when I’m at the beach.

Final Thoughts

I absolutely enjoyed this cruise. I probably won’t sail on the Magic in the near future, but I will absolutely book with Carnival again. It wasn’t my favourite all-time cruise, but it did rank up there in my top picks. I was pleasantly surprised.

9 Cruise Essentials You Didn’t Know You Needed

I have decided that I want to become a professional vacationer.

Is that something that I can just decide? Just like that?

I don’t know, but either way, I’m already working on my next travel plans.

I’ve been on a handful of cruises in my life and each time I learn about things that make the trip more efficient.

Towel Clips

If you’ve ever tried sunning on the top deck of a cruise ship while it is cruising through the ocean, you understand how windy it can get. Towel clips help keep your towels and cover ups secure to your loungers.

Waterproof Phone Case

Previously, I bought waterproof pouches to protect my phone/money/etc. while on the beach or excursions. However, I recently bought a GhostTek waterproof case and it is so much better! I was able to get some very clear photos and videos underwater.

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Conditioner

Salty hair, don’t care. Right? Except, if you don’t have a good conditioner, chances are that you won’t be able to brush through your locks after a shower. With my long, bleached hair, if I don’t have an amazing conditioner, the only hairstyle I’ll be sporting is a rat’s nest…I mean, a messy bun. This time I brought this John Frieda conditioner, which actually worked so well that I didn’t even have to dry my hair to ward off the frizz. It just left my hair as smooth as a glassy sea.

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Wristband Card Holder

There are actually a few different options for this – it really depends on personal preference. The point is to have something to protect your ship card/ID/money/credit cards while out and about. I have a wristband that holds everything, so when I go snorkeling, all my important cards are with me. Some people prefer a lanyard or something similar.

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Snorkel Masks

This was the first time we brought our own snorkel masks and it was well worth it! Instead of doing excursions through the ship, we just took a taxi to a beach and snorkeled on our own.

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USB Charging Station

Ship staterooms usually only have 1 outlet. Let’s just say, it’s likely that the average person has more than 1 thing that needs to charge at the same time. If you have a wall charger that has multiple usb slots, you can charge everything faster.

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ZenGest EO

This is gross, but there’s such thing as cruise poop. I don’t know if it’s something to do with the water on board or something, but many people struggle with digestive issues on cruises. ZenGest (doTERRA’s digestive blend) helps keep your gut in tact and your close quarters from smelling foul.

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Earplugs

Cruises can be noisy. There have been many times where our sleep has been disturbed by waves crashing, engines running, tipsy guests in the hall and toilets flushing. Brian swears by earplugs and always keeps extras in his luggage.

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Water Backpack

This was also the first time we utilized a hydration backpack. It’s great because the pack doubles as a backpack, so you are carrying your water and anything else on your back. Also, it is insulated so the water stays cold and refreshing. There’s no need to lug around a heavy water bottle.

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Have you utilized any of these items on your cruise/vacation? I’d love to hear your thoughts on these.

Budget Wars | Caribbean Vacation

We are home from vacation.

Beautiful.

Caribbean.

Vacation.

carnival ship Pictures

The very first thing – and I literally mean the very first thing I do when we arrive home from vacation is…

…look for another vacation.

I love a good deal and sometimes they just land in my lap – but mostly after I chase after them.

Imagine taking a vacation with the love of your life for 10 days and it costs you less than $1500 for everything – flights, food, lodging, excursions.

How did we do it?

Flights/Travel

As you know, I put a lot of work into finding the best deals for the best getaways. I booked inexpensive flights through Spirit and we packed in one suitcase and one personal item (these are well worth buying!!). I saw people with multiple suitcases and carry-ons, but it never makes sense to me. How do you need so much stuff for vacation? There’s not enough room in your stateroom and it is such a hassle trying to move all that luggage on and off the boat. My goal next time is to pack in my personal item, to eliminate any added bag costs with Spirit.

The other travel gem I found was the bus trip from Miami to Orlando. I booked it through GoToBus.com and it was well worth it! It cost me double just to go from Fort Lauderdale to Miami through the cruise ship – and the trip to Orlando was about 3 hours. I highly recommend GoToBus!

Excursions

I have an interesting view on excursions. We got such a steal on our cruise tickets, that any excursion would cost more than what we paid for our vacation.

I just can’t do that.

So, we like to ‘do our own thing.’ Obviously, you have to be careful with security issues, but for the most part, we like to charter the locals for excursions. They cost less and are way less crowded than ship excursions. If you live life on the edge like that, it can be hit or miss, but that’s where flexibility comes into play. This time we brought our own snorkel gear – and seriously, these masks are genius!

snorkel masks Pictures

Food & Drink

Yes, food on the boat is included in the ticket. However, they have lots of options that cost extra. Also, one of the things that I noticed is that people get off the boat and instantly go to a bar or restaurant to eat and drink – which you have to pay for. We almost always stick with eating only on the ship. We also don’t drink alcohol, so that cuts out a lot of added costs (it was something like $56/day for the drink package).

Cruise

Ok, down to the cruise cost itself. How did we get such a steal on this? First thing was that we booked last-minute. Also, it was a flash sale directly through Carnival for those who have sailed with Carnival before. Lastly, it is hurricane season. You have a high possibility of rough waters, bad weather or missing ports. Like I said before, that’s where flexibility comes in. The thing to remember is that hurricane season comes every year between June and December and cruise ships maneuver the ocean waters every single day. They know how to handle the waters. They know how to handle the storms.

Add that all up and you have a beautiful vacation for less. It really makes traveling often affordable.

Now all we need is some friends to join us next time…

What’s In My Travel Makeup Bag?

I’ve always found traveling with makeup to be interesting. Mostly because I like to challenge myself by packing in a carry-on – it just makes so much more sense to me.

However.

This time around, Brian booked our flights and he booked one checked luggage and ZERO carry-ons.

ZERO.

NOTHING.

NADA.

ZILCH.

So, that means packing will be very different this vacation.

Starting with my makeup. I will still have my purse on the plane, so I will still bring a makeup bag stashed with samples. However, I will probably pack more makeup than normal because it can go in my checked luggage.

So, here goes. This is what I’m bringing…

In My Purse

Samples

Travel-Size Makeup

Full-Size Makeup

Tools

  • Foundation Brush
  • Bronzer Brush
  • Blush Brush
  • Highlighter Brush
  • Brow Spoolie

In My Checked Luggage

I think this is the most makeup I have ever travelled with. Last year, when we went to Mexico, Brian successfully convinced me to leave my makeup at home.

Big mistake.

Every night I wanted to add a little get-up to my face, but had nothing. Not even a sun-kissed glow. It rained 5 out of the 7 days.

This time, I’m ready.

But I also hope for lots of sunshine.

Secrets for Last Minute Vacations

It’s been exactly 15 hours since I booked our latest vacation.

I am almost fully packed and ready – at least mentally and on paper (well, actually, Trello).

We leave in exactly 11 days, 22 hours and 15 minutes from the time I’m writing this. For me, this may almost be considered a planned-ahead vacation.

I’ve said it before and I’m not sure this will ever change, but last-minute vacations are just how I roll.

I was actually looking at a cruise in December – this is my favourite time to cruise because it’s the tail-end of hurricane season, so you can get amazing deals.

Somehow, in our search, a 7-day cruise popped up for under $200 per person. Then $60 flights coincided.

So, naturally, this means we are rearranging our lives, dropping everything and going on vacation.

Even if it means we will miss my favourite holiday, Canadian Thanksgiving.

But, honestly.

I can be thankful in the Caribbean, that’s not a problem.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 16 years of last-minute travel, it’s how to be completely prepared to travel last-minute.

After I have secured the vacation deal of a lifetime, these are the things I do next so I can be ready to go within just a few days.

Transportation Details

You already know I love a good deal, so it wouldn’t come as a shock to hear that I check and double-check flights, costs, etc. If it’s considerably less than flying immediately, I will book my flights a few days before or after the cruise. This time around, I want to see my sister, so I found a $20 bus ticket from Miami to Orlando on the day we disembark. I’m able to spend some time with her because flights were a lot less leaving from Orlando on the Tuesday.

Explore

I get overly excited when it comes to cruises, so I want to know everything about everything, and then more regarding our vacation. If you log into the cruise website, you can explore the boat, stateroom, boat amenities, spa, excursions, dining and pretty well anything else you want. The thing I love about this is that I don’t have to waste time getting lost on the ship – I already have become familiar with the layout.

Trello

If you haven’t heard of Trello, you are missing out. Trello basically takes all the stress of getting things done out of the picture by keeping everything organized and in order. I have all of these things already set-up in Trello, so once I’ve booked my vacation, I just need to update my Lists. Things I have on my Trello Vacation Board are:

  • To Do List
  • Our Travel Itinerary
  • Packing Lists
  • Excursions/Activities Plan
  • Kid’s Itinerary/Notes (for the sitter)

(If you want to learn more about Trello, Jessica Stansberry made me excited to put it to use)

Cruise/Vacation App

Most cruise lines have their own apps that you can access all the information you want regarding your cruise, excursions, etc. You can even use them to text back and forth with other guests on the ship (although rates may apply). They even have a countdown, in case you’re not excited enough as it is.

Gym Time

I hate feeling frumpy on vacation, so I like to hit the workouts a little harder before I leave for any vacation. The last thing I want is to be self-conscious about summer clothing.

Buy Bathing Suits

Ok, this is probably more of a fun thing I like to do, not necessarily a requirement. Although, this time around, my bathing suit wardrobe is seriously wanting. The great thing right now is that you can find lots of clearance suits. You know I’m all about that.

Pack

Hours after I’ve booked a vacation, my Trello board has my entire packing list all ready to go – only minor tweaks are necessary. So, this makes packing a breeze! I log into Trello, check off items as I throw them together and voila! I’m ready to go!

Now to just sit back and wait for a whole 11 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes.

And this, my friends, is how I keep my sanity when planning for a last-minute vacation. Would you feel stressed out if you had less than 2 weeks to get ready for vacation?

How To Ensure A Bug-Free Hotel Room

I am in Kitchener this weekend…or Waterloo. Well, maybe Bloomingdale. I’m not quite sure.

It took us longer than I’d like, but we’re here. Brian literally dropped me off at the hotel and rushed off to a men’s conference.

I’m tagging along because, why not.

I love travelling. I love getting away. I love taking some time to refresh.

Except.

Hotels.

I have such a high standard for the hotels in which I stay. If you’ve ever travelled with me, you very well may have heard me discuss hotel features, or I may have told you the horror story from West Virginia. I probably wouldn’t go as far to say I’m a hotel snob, but it may be something I’ve been referred to in my lifetime.

So, even though I have high standards in my hotel choices, there is a process that I go through to make sure the room is up to par.

Checking for PESTS

The very first thing I do is freak out!

Well, only if someone walks in before me and plops something down on the bed or the floor.

I always go in and check certain areas before anyone is allowed to make themselves at home.

  1. Threshold & edges of the carpet – If there are pests, you may be able to see black near the edges of the flooring, especially if the carpet is lifted a bit or if it is worn/frayed. The specific places I check are the entrance & bathroom thresholds, the edge of the carpeted baseboards, behind the dresser, and the edges inside the closet.
  2. Picture frames on the wall – Bugs like to hide and behind frames is a common spot they tend to like.
  3. Dresser – I like to open the drawers and see what they look like. I don’t use the dressers in hotels, but it still gives me a snapshot of what’s behind the scene.
  4. Mattress – If you lift up the corner of the mattress, you will be surprised at what you find. More and more hotels are using specific bedbug proof covers, which is great. If there are bedbugs, there will be dark matter in the creases of the mattress edge. If there are no dark spots, there are no bedbugs.

Once I’ve done that, everyone is allowed to put their stuff down.

…but not on the floor.

That’s off-limits.

My rules include:

  • Suitcases only go on the stand
  • Clothes only get hung up, left in the suitcase or put in a hamper (if I brought one)
  • Only disposable cups may be used (glass cups usually are just wiped “clean”)

Then next thing I do is my favourite part. It gives me so much satisfaction and peace of mind. I have a travel kit in which I always keep a travel size bottle of Lysol spray/wipes.

Disinfect/Remove as many germs as possible

  1. The RemoteUgh! I can’t even think about how many germs are on this thing. I have way too many thoughts about what may even be on the remote.
  2. The Bathroom Door Handle – I hate to say it, but I would put money on the fact that many people don’t wash their hands after using the washroom in hotel rooms. I also disinfect the hotel room door handle.
  3. The Telephone – It’s not often that I use the hotel phone, but if I had to, I would want it to be clean. So that gets a wipe down.
  4. The Toilet Flusher – I have heard so many stories about the way hotel bathrooms get cleaned. I’m just not interested in leaving that to chance, so the flusher gets a wipe down too.
  5. The Curtain Stick – I’m not sure that’s what it’s called, but that thing used to draw the blinds…yeah, I’m pretty sure no one thinks to clean that, yet everyone touches it.
  6. The Coffee Maker Display – I don’t ever use the one provided in the room, but if I did, I would clean this too.
  7. The Bed – Ok, I don’t use Lysol for the bed, but I do take the decorative pillows and any cover/coverlet/top blanket and toss them in the corner of the room. Housekeeping doesn’t wash these between guests.

After all this is done, I know that I can sit back and relax, knowing that the place I’m resting my head is clean and in order.

Do you have a routine that you follow when you stay at a hotel? I’d love to hear what you do.

Weekend Getaway | Niagara Falls

Ok, I admit that I watch superhero movies as well as comic book films (are they the same thing?). Except, I couldn’t tell you anything about anybody in any of the films as I’m apparently not fanatic about it.

Sorry, but not entirely.

Nonetheless, we decided to take a trip to Niagara Falls and experience Comic Con for ourselves. Normally when we head there, we spend time visiting family as opposed to doing ‘touristy’ outings, but this time, we decided to switch things up a bit.

Friday after school, we drove 3.5 hours to a place called Fonthill. Imagine the hilly countryside with farms and small towns. A place where you wave to people, just because. We grabbed some pizza and settled in for the night at our dear friends’ house.

Saturday morning we packed up a cooler and headed to the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls. We got there just before 11am and the line to get in was wrapped all the way around the building and then folded around the back side once more. We were told it would be an hour and a half wait – but, you know, we’re hard-core gamers and such, so yeah, we stood in that line and owned it like a boss.

CC LIne

The line actually moved faster than anticipated and within an hour, we were inside and exploring. Forgive me (all you actual gamers/comic lovers), but my first impression was that it was a big flea market of comic book knick knacks and such. There were a few booths that were pretty cool, like the board game one, but it didn’t have the game I’m looking for, so that kinda burst my bubble. The other cool booths were the arcade games and the picture ops with characters.

The picture ops all work on donations, so although it’s not a requirement, you may want to bring smaller bills for donations. The only one that was a bit sketch for me was the batman one. They waited until the kids were standing on either side of batman in front of the bat mobile, then, as I lifted my phone to take a pic, they told me it was a mandatory $10 donation for the photo-op. What am I going to say to my kids at that point, no? No big deal, I just made sure I got a good pic.

CC Batman

Besides the big flea market type expo, they also offered some sessions and panels, which I thought were pretty cool. I went to a special effects session, which was fun to watch since I’m a graphic designer. I can’t say I learned anything (probably because I already knew the basics they taught), but it was fun to hear their backstories on how they got into graphic design and visual effects. I also went to a makeup demo that was quite intriguing. It makes me want to try to do some Disney or comic inspired makeup looks (comment below if you’d like to see that).

CC Visual Effects

We went to two panel sessions. The first was with The Big Show. Now, I’m not a fan of wrestling, but I really enjoyed his session since he came across so caring and compassionate and like a genuinely good guy. Plus, I could follow some of what he said due to my cousins forcing me to watch wrestling when we were kids.

The second panel was with Michael Rooker (Yondu) and Sean Gunn (Rocket). This panel was probably worth buying a Comic Con ticket all on its own. Michael Rooker is absolutely hilarious. They captivated the audience and the time flew by. We laughed almost the entire time.

When we left the convention, we headed down to the Falls. After scoring some ice cream, we walked to the bottom of Clifton Hill and stopped for some pics in front of the Falls. All of a sudden, someone grabbed me from behind (I thought it was Violet). As I turned around, I realized it was a friend of mine! What are the odds?! Such a great surprise!

After taking in the glorious majesty of the Falls, we walked back up Clifton Hill and stopped at the Great Canadian Midway for some games. We played Ghost Blaster, rode the 6D virtual roller coaster and played arcade games for an hour.

We can’t be in Niagara Falls without spending time with Brian’s brother and sister-in-law.  So, we stopped by their place for dinner and a visit. It always makes me wish we lived closer.

On Sunday morning, we decided to visit Jubilee Community Church. Pastor Ralph delivered an amazing message in a series called ‘Read the Book.’ It was such an honour to be a part of their service and see what God is doing through them in Dunnville.

CC Notes

Sunday proved to be a leisurely drive home to Windsor. We had an amazing time in the Niagara Region with many friends and I’m grateful for this little weekend getaway.

Israel – The Garden of Gethsemane

Pinterest Gethsemane

Easter.

What does it mean to you?

Many of you know that I had the privilege to travel to Israel in February (2018). Touring the Holy Land was one of the best travel experiences I’ve had. There is so much rich history and being there painted a picture in my mind that I wish I could capture and retell for all to hear.

Since it’s Easter weekend, here’s a little tidbit of that picture from the Garden of Gethsemane.

Gethsemane 5

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
Matthew 26:36

Imagine. You’ve lived a good life so far. You’re young – in your prime. When you know that the time has come for you to kick the bucket. But not just the close your eyes and slip into eternity type, the kind where you know you’re going to experience the worst of the worst before you give up the ghost. You know that you have the power to stop the atrocities by making one small decision to do things differently than your father told you. You also know that by saving yourself, you would be denying everyone your father loves dearly from the salvation that you took. It’s either you die like this, or your father’s loved ones will be separated from him forever.

What would you do?

Would that be an easy choice for you?

If it was me, at the very least, I’d be pleading with my father to find another way to accomplish his plan.

And that’s exactly what Jesus did.

Jesus said in Matthew 26 that he felt so sorrowful, even unto death. He took his disciples and asked them to pray while he went to ‘talk to his Father.’ He pleaded so hard that the Bible says he actually sweat drops of blood.

Drops of blood!

Gethsemane 4

When he was finished praying, he knew that this was the only way to save all of humanity.

He had resolve. Resolve to endure.

For you. For me. For all of humanity.

I’m not religious, but I have been a Christian for 30 years. Almost sounds like an oxymoron, but I seriously love the fact that I can know God on a personal level. That’s only possible because of Christ’s death on the Cross.

I’ve always been grateful for what Christ accomplished on the Cross, and now I feel like I’ve experienced a personal connection to His death, burial and resurrection.

Being in the Garden of Gethsemane made that come alive to me.

In our day and age, we look forward to Friday and stress about what comes after Sunday.
But for real.
When you get the revelation…
Friday was a struggle to endure.
But Sunday came.

Gethsemane 2

He is risen. He’s alive.
He’s shaken me to my core.
I believe that my God is about to shake the nations.