June 6, 2016

What Happens in Vegas...

I know... 

Honestly, I do!  If you know me us then you know that Vegas is not really our deal.  I mean, we love to travel and to see new places and new things but Vegas hasn't ever been on our radar as a desired destination! 

And yet... there we were --all three of us, taking off from Seattle, Vegas-bound!

I wrote about it earlier... how it all started off as a joke! How my girlie and I talked of being like Lorelai and Rory, and celebrating her 21st birthday Gilmore Girls-style.  But life happened, and time (as it does) got away from us and I forgot to plan it all out and I forgot to hope that she would even want to.

But when she asked, as if she really did still want to hang out with her Mama in Las Vegas, well... God showed up, leaving signs that He was all in, (Ya see what I did there?) and we put a trip together real quick like!

Here's the thing...

All the while, when throwing this thing together, we felt a sense of needing to go. Like God was saying, "I am sending you. I have plans for you." Like God had a purpose or assignment... as if He was excited for us to go!

So we packed our bags and booked our flight and tucked away a little extra expectation... eyes wide open, looking for what He may have in store for us.

Our Girlie texted in the middle of the night, when we were set to fly out in just a few hours asking us to pray. She had a fever and felt horrible and was battling sickness and no one wants to feel weary while on vacation.

So we prayed... and she slept in the car to Seattle and on the plane and while she was not 100%, she had been gifted the energy and focus and a good attitude through out the trip! (Especially the standing up parts, because - you know how it goes when you are sick and you finally crawl into bed and try to sleep!)

Finally there, resting before heading out.

The View from our room of New York, New York & MGM.

Our hotel - The Excalibur.

So what happens when you're not entirely sure of what happened in Vegas? Does that stay there, too?

Ah...Freemont Street!

 So cool!

An MJ sighting...                                

You can't even know...                                 
best birthday gift ever for our Girlie!                                 

The bus ride back to the hotel may have been the most adventurous thing we did while in Las Vegas! It was packed full... and filled with entertainment: people-watching, small talk, and eavesdropping -oh my!  

It was also filled with opportunities. Opportunities to pray (even if just under our breath), to listen hear, to smile, laugh, encourage... Opportunities to see God show up. 

But this God of ours, who is only sometimes invisible, gives opportunities that are sometimes --well, impossible to see. 

And we can't always know if we nailed it or not.

We so wanted to be His hands, His feet... His very heart beating along the Strip... as we wandered the hotels and casino's... the hallways and sidewalks, and it's not like we were not looking for ways... but the trip, it seemed, really was just about us.  

Just a gift to reconnect and recommit to being a family of three and being so for each other and so with each other.

Now let me say - it's not like we were at odds at all. Which is why I suppose we were looking for ways for God to use us elsewhere... but He whispered it soft and just like how the smoke burned my throat and eyes, His voice burned my heart and soul... 

He said, "I am for you!"

We say it all the time, that He is a good, good Father!  We sing it out and we mean it and know it, but still... 

Sometimes we think He is good... so that... 

He's good so that ______ (fill in the blank.)

...so that I will be good, too. 
...so that He can be the Boss of me.
...so that I will be/do/go whatever and wherever He says to be/do/go.

Maybe, like me, you hadn't really thought through what the 'so that' may be... but linger in the corners of shadows... you suspected it all along. He's good, ...so that...

But no. He's just good. Period.

No ulterior motive... no manipulation... no trickery or tom-foolery or switcheroo plans... He's just good.

As the song says, ...it's Who He is!

He can't not be good.

And sometimes - even if there are opportunities to minister or to testify (which there just always, always are!) - sometimes He just wants to be good for you... to you. 

No strings attached.

Do you believe that?

Good Morning, Vegas!

We woke to sunshine and we went out in search of fun and adventure... in search of new sights and sounds... expecting to both be and find gifts and blessings along the way!  

Hopefully we shifted some atmospheres, released a little (or a lot of) Kingdom, and witnessed to others by simply speaking life, 
being love, and shining on wherever we strolled!

But the gifts we were called to be were actually to be given to each other.  

The sense of purpose on this trip was to remind us that no matter what... at our core... we are still and always called to be three.  

One day that number will change, sure. But at the very center of this family that He created with us, we are with and for each other and no magic age or amount of miles can separate our hearts or change that call.

This trip was about reconnecting as a family and experiencing life side by side... reminding each of us of what we love in and about each other... of what we count as valuable and priceless... and of how we have fun and enjoy being together. 

Honestly - it was about realizing, yet again, what a blessing that really is!  

There were ordinary moments that were weighty with Glory but I may have missed it if I wasn't intentional in seeking and finding!

So Swoon-worthy, right?

I mean... we HAD to, right?

Our Girlie... cashing out once she made                      
a profit of $12 because she's risky like that!                      

The High Roller Ferris Wheel!                             

Shake Shack! Oh My!                                 

After a full day of walking and seeing... we were ready for a little sitting and soaking! Ah yes - this is what I was longing for:

...A little hanging poolside, eyes closed and sun warming our skin. (Then there came this guy...)

This guy trying to pick up our girlie right in front of us...                              
(and her Daddy in the background! LOL!)                              

After a few hours of relaxing... we were ready for another night out!

Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity!                       

How can you not love the fountains at The Bellagio?

The Vegas Strip
So after the fountains at the Bellagio, we were focused on heading back to our hotel.  We had an all day tour scheduled for the following day and morning would come early.

We walked along the Strip and amidst the crowds and it was then, around 10pm maybe, we began to see a little of what we'd been warned about. (Like the billboard trucks dragging the Strip advertising girls who could be delivered to hotel rooms. Like people who had been drinking all day already... and were finding a second wind.  Like girls not fully dressed. Like homeless people asking for weed. Like cards handed out and littering the sidewalk, advertising prostitution with photo's of girls barely dressed.) While I'm not so sure I would say it is 'family friendly' - I will say that there were families there.  I will say that we never felt unsafe. We never felt accosted or offended.  

If anything, we felt sad... and we longed to let Love spill out because Love is there... longing to be poured out... longing to fill the strip and the street... longing to fill the void and the vacationers.  So we silently prayed and released His Presence as we walked by countless nameless faces whom God madly loves! Not a one of them is countless or nameless to Him.

We made it back to the hotel, managed to get some sleep, and wake to start the day off bright and early, headed for the Grand Canyon!

Colorado River

Instead of a show... we figured for the same cost, we could make a full day of it and actually see a not so small Wonder! We all agreed, it was worth the early morning and long bus ride there!

The Grand Canyon, South Rim

Nadia from Germany...                             
we sort of adopted her for the day!                             

We loved seeing the Grand Canyon... and we really loved seeing Las Vegas, too! I think we all three agreed that we would even go back one day. We'd do a few things differently, but over all we were surprised at how much we felt compassion for that city! 

But that shouldn't have surprised us because God is passionate about cities.  Don't for a moment think that is not true! It's true for my city... for your city... and even --or maybe especially-- for the cities where we least expect to find Him.

But find Him is what happened! 

Honestly, that is what happened in Vegas.  
I found Jesus. Because Jesus is in us and all around us and if we will be open and willing to look - to really look... oh my goodness, how we will find Him!

I found Him in the eyes of the homeless man on the bridge.  I found Him in the laughter of the people sitting next to us at the restaurant. I found Him in the shuttle driver, the guy waiting to get on the bus who actually lives and works in Vegas and he was trying to not be late for work as those he serves pushed him aside to get where they were going first.  I found Him in the tired cocktail waitress at the casino and in the maid at the hotel and in the guy who we chatted with in line while registering. I found Him in the humor of the guy at the pool, in the brave of Nadia from Germany on the bus, in the hand of My Honey and in the resting head of my all grown up girlie, on my shoulder as she slept.

P.S.  I'm linking up with these lovely writers:

Holly Barrett for #TestimonyTuesday

Kelly Balarie for #RaRaLinkUp

Jennifer Dukes Lee for #TellHisStory


  1. Love! Sounds like you had a great trip. Vegas isn't really on my list either but now I want to go. Oh and that frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity looks divine. Jesus really is everywhere and in everyone.

    1. Amen, my friend! I think if you plan it right - you know, mid-week, when it is not as hot as death... it's a fun place to sight see and relax. As someone else said below... we were out mostly during the day and headed back toward 'home' in the evening, so the wild nightlife was never really an issue or a draw for us! (And that Frozen Hot Chocolate was amazing!)

  2. Fun! I'm so glad you guys had a great time!

    1. Me, too! Honestly - LOL - it could have gone either way! ;)

  3. This looks like an amazing trip. I'm glad you had such a good time. I love the reminders that God is good, with no strings attached, and that Jesus is everywhere and we just have to look to find him.

    1. Me too, Carly! I need that reminder every once in awhile! Glad you stopped by!

  4. Sounds like you had a beautiful family time! Thanks for sharing and the pictures are awesome! Blesssings!

    1. Thanks Gayl! We did have a great time... and you know how I love to take pictures! ;)

  5. Wow! What a fantastic post with amazing pictures Karrilee! You had me remembering the days before my stroke. Our company would take top producers once a year. I'm glad you got to see the contrasts of the city. Yes,during the day it is a smorgasbord for your senses but as it gets later in the night you see things that will break your heart. It sounds like you and your family were truly blessed on the trip and what a fabulous gift for your daughter too! Since I do not like heights we took a ferry boat through a river near the Grand Canyon. It was unbelievable! It's amazing how God reveals Himself to us in so many ways but like you said. we have to be seeking Him. You are so right.. God is SO good! What an incredible Savior we serve! Thanks for sharing your trip. It brought back some great memories. Blessings to you and yours.

    1. Oooooh that ferry boat ride sounds amazing! As much as I enjoy walking and relatively easy hikes - the thought of hiking down to the bottom and having to tent it at the bottom was not tempting to me... but a boat ride through the river at the bottom - well, that sounds nice! We really did have a great time and as much as we were looking for opportunities to have or bring a God encounter, God really did seem to whisper that this trip was just for us - and He was fine with that! ;) So glad it stirred up good memories for you, brother!

  6. So you sold me when you Gilmore Girls ; ) I really liked your point of view, being intentional for looking for God among the sin city. He is there among the pain and hurt. I love the pics! I am glad you got to go for her birthday even if it was later. : )

    1. Ah a fellow GGs lover! (How excited are you that Netflix signed them for four mini-movie episodes? OMG!!!) Thanks so much for popping on over Kristina! You are welcome here any time!

  7. Awww! Thank you for sharing your adventure and the beautiful photos :). You are so right, God is everywhere, and he desperately wants us to notice the unloved, the marginalized and the forgotten right along with the beauty, splendor and grandeur.


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