The 2013 Singing at Sea Cruise was a success this year!
We sailed from Jacksonville, FL on Monday to Nassau, Bahamas and then back to Jacksonville again, arriving Saturday morning. The entire time we are sailing, there is great gospel music, food, fun and fellowship!
It’s a week where we are able to spend time with other groups, fans and friends of gospel music.
The Singing At Sea is totally chartered for a Christian Event. The Bars and Casinos are closed and the entertainment for the week is by some of southern gospel music’s finest groups.
Yvonne and I love the Cruise because it gives us a week to just be together. We use the Cruise to focus on each other for one full week.
This year was our 5th Cruise as a couple.
Wednesday morning, we stop at Half Moon Cay. It is a private island owned by Carnival Cruise line. Passengers are able to get off the ship and snorkel, swim, go pari-sailing or just relax. The Island has white sandy beaches, light blue water and hammocks!
Yvonne and I love to take a nap in a hammock built for 2.
The hardest part about the hammock is getting IN and OUT of the hammock.
I’m glad no one videos or takes pictures of us trying to get into the hammock. (I think Libbi Stuffle MAY have 1 or 2)
See, Yvonne and I have done the “hammock thing” before. I get in the hammock first. Yvonne helps hold the rope that connects to the pole and the hammock, while I slowly sit on it. I must ease onto it. I hold the strings and steady it, then one leg at a time, I swing my legs into the hammock. I try to get into the middle. The entire time, she is steading the hammock.
Once I’m in, she sits down as well. I do my best to steady the hammock, by laying still and holding on. Then she follows the same steps that I just completed. If we don’t work as a team, the hammock will flip upside down and we’ll end up face first in the sand!
Our life together is much the same way.
She can’t make our marriage work by herself. I can’t raise the kids by myself. She can’t have a successful career in retail without my help. I can’t be effective in ministry with Soul’d Out without her support.We must work and operate as a team.
I admit there are things that I’m not good at, but it’s awesome that those are the areas that Yvonne is strong in. We play to each others strengths.
Like any good team, we are learning the ways to make us stronger.
The Singing at Sea Cruise has become the thing that I think about mid way through December that keeps me sane sometimes. Working 4th quarter as a Store Manager, for a big box retailer, has me rising early ( by early let’s say 2:30am), 6 day work weeks and very very long days. I think about being with Bryan, out of cell range, disconnected from social media AND laying in a hammock listening to the ocean.
During the cruise, we stop at Carnival’s private island. You can can ride a tender from the ship to the island. That is always a challenge for a girl who struggles with sea sickness. I do it every year praying the whole time I don’t end up with my head over the side of the boat. Bryan must ask me 20 times during the ride “You okay, babiesz?”. I always say “Yes” because I know there is a hammock waiting for me. We always walk far down the beach away from the crowd. Far enough that we don’t have to worry our picture will end up in the photo gallery of pictures for sale on the ship later that day. Trust me… no one needs a picture of that. Ha!
The first year all I wanted was to lay in the hammock. It’s all I talked about before leaving for the cruise. It turned out to be cold that day. I will never forget Bryan shivering and his teeth chattering as I asked him if he was cold and wanted to go back. He was such a sport…. he said “no” and stuck it out with me. I also will never forget us trying to get into the hammock. Secretly, we all watch other people as they awkwardly try to get in a hammock without flipping over into the sand. Well, we were no exception the first time. We tried to figure out the best plan. Who would get in first, which way to get in and where to position your weight. Yikes! We made it…. it wasn’t seamless by any means. But for me.. laying there was heaven.
This past cruise a lady was half way laying across a hammock near the one we were getting into. She commented to us saying, “this certainly isn’t you two’s first time at this”. I laughed and said “Nope, we’ve had practice.” We had a beautiful day and laid there longer than we have been able to any other year. When we were leaving and getting out of the hammock, the same lady said “that makes for a good marriage- what a team”. We thanked her and probably secretly gave ourselves a pat on the back for a non eventful dismount of the hammock.
So, I’ve been thinking about the nice lady and her observation of our teamwork. She was right. We are a good team. Much like the improvement in our hammock skills; also comes the improvement of our marriage skills. It hasn’t always been effortless or skillfully done. We have practiced. We have learned from our opportunities. We plan as a team strategically for things or situations ahead that we know are challenging. And we each do our part. We both know that not paying attention or steadying the foundation could lead to both of us face down in the sand. We support one another… because we both want the reward. The reward of resting together in peace. The reward of the serenity and intimacy.
What does that support look like? Here’s the key- what Bryan thinks is support for me, may not be my version of support and vise versa. The first few years we learned how to “dance” we like to call it. For instance, I am very independent. I am perfectly capable of taking out the trash, doing laundry or making dinner. But Bryan needs to do those things because he sees it as a way of taking care of me. He is on the road a lot and needs to feel like he is contributing to the running of our home. So, I listened. I heard him. Even though I may not understand it, I accept that he feels that way. Therefore, I don’t take out the trash anymore when he’s home. On the flip side, I need assurance that if I’m running late from work, I won’t come home to an upset spouse. No one wants to be away one more minute than necessary than me. However, I have learned; don’t text ” on my way” until I am physically in my car. It could take me 30 minutes to get from my office to the front door. We listened to one another and the issue was resolved. I also attend a lot of concerts. We have a distance limit and a couple other requirements. So if a date matches those, I attend. I work more weekends than required at my own choosing so that I can travel for the dates I want to go to. I take Tuesdays off usually to spend together. I’m fortunate to be able to work more days in a row or more weekends back to back to get to go and spend extra time with my husband. This is what support looks like for us. It will look different for you.
Where to start? How to support each other? How to be a team?
1) We believe you need to pray together about everything but particularly to be sensitive to your spouse in this case. Pray to be aware of their needs, to be patient during conflict and to be aware of ways that you can make conflicts less stressful. Pray you will listen with an open heart during arguments.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV)
2) You’ve got to listen to one another.
Let’s rephrase this… You need to listen with an open heart. You must accept that even though you may not understand it- this is how your spouse thinks or feels. Don’t try and tell them how to feel or discount how they feel. In my experience , try and tell someone how to feel… well, you’re just asking for trouble.
“To answer before listening— that is folly and shame.” (Proverbs 18:13 NIV)
3) Get over yourself. Hang your ego outside the door. It’s not about being better at something or not good at something. It’s about; we are a team. Who can do this the best for us?
“Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” (Proverbs 13:3, 10 NIV)
4) Don’t sweat the small stuff. Let it go if it’s not really a big deal. Those little things that drive you crazy- in the big scope of things… Is it really that important?
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)
5) Choose your words carefully. Be a cheerleader for your spouse. In fact, be the loudest cheerleader! When those times come that conflict arises, I’m a huge believer of waiting until you can express yourself calmly and clear headed. Once you throw it out there, you can never take it back…. No matter how many times you apologize, it’s still out there.
“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” (Proverbs 13:3 NIV)
6) Body language says it all. Research show that communication is 10% what you say and 90% how you say it. Do team mates get frustrated ? Yes. Do your best to word things in a way that is not accusatory, judgmental or degrading with absolutely no finger pointing or eye rolling. Enough said about that subject.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37 NIV)
7) Safe space: You should be the one person that your spouse feels comfortable being vulnerable around. Let’s face it- no one wants to admit someone else can do something better or admit to weaknesses. It’s all in how we react to one another. If a husband always hears ” I told you so” or a wife hears ” just let me do it” all the time, they are more likely to feel like they must be perfect or that they are a disappointment. Let’s face it… Nobody is perfect.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18 NIV)
8) Be one. We don’t mean think alike… We mean think like One. Your spouse should be the second thing that comes to your mind ( God being the first) when it comes to any choice or decision. Your spouse should know everything. If that sentence made you feel uncomfortable to read…. read it again.
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24 NIV)
If you are interested in taking a Cruise next year, Soul’d Out would love to be your host on The 2014 Singing At Sea Cruise.
Contact The Soul’d Out Quartet office and we can get a brochure to you. www.souldoutquartet.com
Now, go have some “Hammock Time.”