Family life · memories · Refreshment · Vacation tips

The Grace Gift of a Family Vacation

Who doesn’t LOVE going to Pigeon Forge in the Smokey Mountains?! Last weekend we were blessed to gather there for a family vacation. After all the restrictions, I have truly rejoiced each time a planned event actually gets to happen! This time away was our 2020 Christmas gift to our children and their spouses, so we’ve been planning this for many months. What a precious time it was and how full our hearts are after four days and three nights together! This is hard, but I’m just going to share five highlights of the many fun moments we shared.

We opted to have all but one meal in our condo. We divided up the days and mealtimes and each contributed food for that meal. The first night we made it easy and brought pizza in since we had just checked in an hour before. I added a salad to round out the menu. Here is everyone (except my husband who’s taking the picture) at the table. We were a happy clan!

Whitney and I both have September birthdays, so we celebrated with a delicious Lemon-Raspberry Cake from Blackbird Bakery in Bristol, VA. How special to have the whole family there to celebrate with us! That in itself was a precious gift!

For a little added fun, we had a game competition that lasted the whole weekend. That was Whitney’s idea and it turned out to be a great plan! We played Sorry, Dutch Blitz, Spot it, Miniature Golf, Scrabble and Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza. That last game is hilarious and great for a crowd!!!

I loved our game time because it kept us connected even at hours when we were really tired. Instead of scrolling on our phones, we were playing games, laughing ourselves silly, and pushing up our competitive sleeves to gain more points on the scoreboard! Whitney kept an ongoing tally of the winner and second place contestant of each game, and then awarded the first and second place champions on Monday morning. Who do you think won???? Keep reading!

it was really great that the condo has a putt-putt course on site. Beside it is a playground, and just up the way was the pool. It was all literally outside our door! Our little guys enjoyed all of those fun activities and the Lord was gracious to give us beautiful days in which to enjoy it all.

We had several special times in God’s Word and prayer as a family. How sweet to gather together to thank the Lord and also leave our burdens and requests. I’m so thankful for a family who loves Jesus. Equally special was seeing individuals open the Bible in their own little space and spend time with the Lord before our day began. Yes, my heart is full.

I’m not boasting and don’t desire to make you envious of our family time. It was truly a gift from the Lord and we praise Him for it. There are heartaches and burdens, needs and concerns in our family, just like in yours. How precious to be reminded even this week that as the Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer and told him that He saw his tears, our God hears us and sees our tears, too.

Whatever may be grieving your heart today, refresh your spirit by remembering that the Lord cares and is at work in your life. Cry to Him as Hezekiah did, then watch to see how He will comfort you.

I pray your weekend is refreshing as you fellowship with believers and worship our great God!

Oh, wait…the first place winner of our game competition was Alli, and anyone who knows our family will not be surprised at that! Second place was awarded to her equally competitive mother!

What are some ways you keep everyone connected during family times?

cakes · Celebrations · Family life · Parenting

Girl’s Trip #2

Throwback to our first Girl’s trip.

Almost 3 years ago my girls and I took our first girl’s trip. We were celebrating my birthday then. We had so much fun, and it was such a special blessing to connect with one another, that we were excited to plan another one!

Last weekend we took our second trip to celebrate a special 30th birthday, and I’ll let you figure out who’s turning 30! We went to a spot in South Carolina that was absolutely beautiful and perfect for our two night, three day getaway!

The most important part of any time is the people with whom you share it! We get along so well and it’s just so easy to be together. How blessed I am!

The place we stayed was on the 11th hole of the golf course, and also near a beautiful lake! There were stunning views all around us!

We chose to bring food and cook supper, lunch and breakfast. We want to have good food anytime we get together! This time did not disappoint!

To celebrate the birthday, we went out to dinner one evening. The picture below was my Tomato pie. It was amazing! It’s very different from the recipe that I make, and I loved it!

For birthday cake, I brought Chocolate Orange cakes – an Ina Garten recipe that we love. We went to a beautiful gazebo at the Lakeside for our birthday party.

There were so many fun things to do! One day we spent five hours in the swimming pool and had it almost completely to ourselves. What a fun, relaxing day!

No girl’s trip is complete without some shopping, right?! Soooo…

We had intentional times of conversation, talking about important matters in each of our lives. We had times of prayer and times in God’s Word. I’m so thankful we can share those spiritual moments that knit our hearts together.

Whitney did a great job planning the location for our getaway. We are all looking forward to the next event that we can celebrate!

Have you ever had a strictly girls trip? What was the best part?

Family life · refreshment at home · Refreshment in marriage · Rest · Sabbatical

Fun, Family and Finishing Strong

Who doesn’t love a week full of fun and family? That describes our last week of sabbatical so well, but it’s also a reminder of a truth I hope to pass on to you. Stay tuned.

You might think that 30 days of sabbatical would fly by, but the Lord answered my prayer and allowed it to go nice and slow. What a blessing that was! We enjoyed each day to the max and allowed ourselves time to rest, spend time together as a couple, and focus on what the Lord wanted to teach us as we got ready to head back into ministry.

When we got to the last week, we celebrated our 40th anniversary. My husband did a fantastic job planning our celebration and took me to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.
Oh. My. Goodness.
What a special time it was!

The food was amazing!

The setting was gorgeous!

We got to take our time and enjoy every bite and every minute. We were at the restaurant for about three hours! We cried as we shared memories from our 40 years of marriage during the meal. I told my husband they were going to think we hated our food because of our tears!! It was a truly magical day, full of love for each other, fun times and many blessings!

Ready for our dinner at Ruth’s Chris!

This last week allowed us to enjoy an early July 4th celebration with Paul and Whitney in their adorable small town. It was so patriotic and fun!! There was beautiful music, Uncle Sam on stilts, and parachutists jumping out of airplanes with flags making for a great event!

We went home early in the evening, then later drove to a parking lot nearby to enjoy their fireworks. It was perfect!

We also got to see Paul in his work setting, which was super fun.

The last church we visited was Paul and Whitney’s. What a blessing to worship together and hear the sound preaching of the Word! After the service we went to a lovely little restaurant, The Bleu Porch, in their town and enjoyed a fabulous brunch! My Stuffed French Toast with warm Blueberry Sauce was delicious, but having brunch together as a family was even sweeter!

We spent the last few days at some quiet spots – lakes and mountains vistas – where we could reflect about what the Lord had spoken into our hearts. We did much journaling so as not to forget our lessons and the changes we each needed to make.

This mountain view is more amazing than this picture shows!

Now here we are nearly a whole month later! I’m enjoying the new schedule the Lord guided me to practice. My days and weeks are full, but the Lord is so gracious to allow times of rest just when I need it most!

Even without a sabbatical, we can each find times to rest. Even when dinner is not Ruth’s Chris, but grilled hot dogs, we can find time to be together as a family! Simple events can bring the fun life needs when days are tough. Ladies, we’re often the one who needs to create the fun, so let’s get planning! We need one another!

I’d also encourage you to find regular times to unplug, be still, and listen to the Lord through His Word and in prayer. We are not meant to run on empty without time with the Lord and minimal time in His Word. We need Him!

What do you have planned to refresh your heart? How will you refresh your family?

Unplug and have some fun family time this weekend!

Celebrations · Family life · Marriage

The Best Anniversary Celebration

Last weekend our sweet daughters planned the most lovely early 40th anniversary celebration for my husband and me! Their gift to us was a family photo session with some great photographers from our area.

Plan A was to go to a park in our area, but the day turned out very wet.
Enter Plan B!
We used our newly decorated family room’s lovely blue wall as our backdrop! It ended up being really great (God’s interruptions always are!). I’ll share just a few of my favorite photos from the day.

Our twin grandsons were so cooperative and full of smiles!
I couldn’t ask for sweeter daughters. They are so dear to me.

This next photo is from our wedding day, June 20, 1981!

Forty years ago! And now…
Current!

Lots of things have changed, but Dale’s fun-loving spirit is not one of them!

After the family poses were all taken, the photographers invited each couple to come outside and stand in the rain under their giant umbrella for some really great rainy day shots! I love this one of Paul and Whitney!

And Alli and Andrew…

Look at the rain droplets!

Here are the “Oldie-weds!”

After a delicious lunch at Carrabba’s, we went to Alli and Andrew’s for dessert, consisting of a scrumptious Strawberry Cake. Whitney decorated for the party in her typical flare. It was so much fun and so pretty!

We can hardly believe we are staring 40 years in the face, but we are so thankful. God has been faithful, spite our old sin natures and imperfect love, He has guided us, provided for us and grown us. We pray that the years we have remaining will find us pointing others to the glorious Gospel where Jesus demonstrated the perfect sacrificial love, forgiveness, mercy, kindness, grace, and submission.

Here’s praise for (almost) 40 years!

Christmas · Family life · memories

What Christmas 2020 Looked Like

Happy New Year, friends! I’ll save my New Year’s post for next week, because I can’t wait to share some favorite pics from Christmas! Instagram has a Top Nine Best Photos of the year. I’m going to share nine favorite Christmas photos from this year instead! There were just so many special moments that I don’t want to forget!

On Christmas Eve in 1980, my boyfriend asked me to marry him, and now we’re celebrating 40 Christmas’s together!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we were blessed to have ALL of our immediate family together for the holiday. I think we each tried to squeeze everything we could out every minute of being together…getting caught up on conversations, asking questions of things we’d missed out on, and just loving being in person! I love this picture of Dale and Whitney. This was at Christmas brunch, enjoyed at our younger daughter and son-in-law’s.

Sisters, sisters, there were truly never no more devoted sisters!

When you’re decorating cookies and GREEN SPRINKLES are your favorite, a careful peek into the bottom of the container is necessary to ensure you have enough to finish your special cookie design!

We always have a time of Scripture reading and carols before we open gifts. Whitney was our pianist and Alli accompanied on her violin. I snapped this picture of Paul and Whintey while Dale was reading our Bible passage. If you don’t follow Whitney’s blog, you’re missing out on a ton of helpful organization, practical Dollar Tree tips and deep spiritual encouragement!

Meanwhile in the other part of the room, Alli and Andrew were wrangling little boys who were very anxious to get to the PRESENTS!

I kept things less decorated this year, but I definitely still felt all the “warm-cozy” vibes of this time of the year! We enjoy our fireplaces so very much on these dark, cold days, and so does Liza!

One of the best surprises was the SNOW we got on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Day! How kind of the Lord to give us a white Christmas that just added to the beauty of celebrating our Savior’s birth! This is the front yard…

And here is the backyard…

I look forward to 2021 and all the Lord has in store for me…and you! Thanks for making my blog a part of your day! I truly appreciate those of you who read and refresh me by doing so!

Which of my nine photos is your favorite?

Happiest of New Years!