Dates · memories · Refreshment in marriage

Family Friday – Simplifying Anniversary Celebrations

Anniversary

One day last week I stumbled across my journal entry from our anniversary last June.  How thankful I was that I had entered a memory from that day, even though it wasn’t one of the “Big” anniversaries, ending in a 0 or a 5!  It was number 36 (how can that be possible?!).  It was a blessing to be reminded of the sweet day we shared together and the fun we had celebrating another year the Lord had given us as husband and wife.

I had been sick with a nasty cough and body aches the week of our anniversary.  I had gone to the doctor and had a shot and a prescription, but when our special day rolled around, I still wasn’t feeling well enough to want to go anywhere…totally unlike me!  We had plans to go to a beautiful bed and breakfast, but had to cancel our reservation.  My sweet husband was sympathetic, understanding and very caring for my needs.  On the day of our celebration, he insisted I rest.  I did, taking a nap in the morning and another in the afternoon.  He kindly got take out for both lunch and supper meals, and though I didn’t have an incredible appetite, we enjoyed the food and ate outside on our patio.

When he left to go get supper, I set the patio table with framed pictures from our wedding and up through the years.  I got out our wedding album and also my diary from the time when we were dating.  Those things “decorated” the table, along with votive candles and the flowers he had brought me earlier in the day.  After we ate our supper, we sat and looked through the albums and read my diary entries.  We laughed.  We cried.  We reminisced over our early years of marriage, through the births of our three daughters, Ashley’s death, our years in ministry, our girls’ weddings and the countless blessings of the Lord that have made us so rich.

Our 36th anniversary was spent entirely at home.  We had no fancy restaurant setting, no luxury hotel, not even a colossal dessert.  It was just us and our memories and it was every bit as special as our time away would have been – maybe even more so because there was little cost, no stress from traffic or other people, and it allowed us to simplify the day and focus on one another and just reflect on the joy of being married to your best friend.  After all, that’s what anniversaries are for!

There are lots of summer anniversaries (any other June brides?).  If you have a year or two – (or ten!) that for one reason or another requires simplifying, enjoy it!  Oh, and be sure to journal about it somewhere so you can look back on it in years to come and smile at its memory.

Here are some suggestions for a simple celebration:

  • Take breakfast to a park and celebrate early in the day with muffins, yogurt, fruit and coffee. Bring your wedding album with you and look through the photos.
  • Pick up lunch at a favorite place and eat at a beautiful spot – a lake, the Blue Ridge Parkway or a mountain view. Play the music you enjoyed while you were dating.
  • Eat dinner at home with your children, lighting candles and using the best dishes.  Let everyone dress up!  After they go to bed, enjoy a special dessert in a quiet place, just for the two of you.
  • Skip buying presents for one another and decide on one gift you could buy that you would both enjoy –
    • a new coffee maker or espresso machine
    • a hammock
    • a picnic basket or cooler for dates
    • passes to Biltmore or amusement park
    • patio furniture
    • a chair for your bedroom
    • wedding photos that you haven’t purchased yet!
    • enlargements of photos of your family from your phone that you could frame and hang
    • a couples’ devotional book

Simplifying your anniversary celebrations can still be special and memorable.  Make the most of every day the Lord gives you together!

Refresh your marriage,

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Brunch · main dish · memories · Mother's Day · Tablescapes

Friday Favorites – Vacation Pics

Isn’t it amazing how fast vacation time flies by? I had an app on my phone that told me how many more days ’til vacation.  Then, woosh!  It’s done!   It’s also easy to forget everything that happened.  It’s for that reason that I try to journal each day I’m away.  I try to log what we did and what the highlights of the day were. I write down any fun places we discovered, any new restaurants we enjoyed and also special things that we shared as a couple in our day together. Then when I get home I can read back over my writings and can relive our time away!

Here’s a picture journal for you of a few highlights and favorite photos from our time away. Continue reading “Friday Favorites – Vacation Pics”

Marriage · memories · Refreshment in marriage

Family Friday – Invest in Time Away

This week during our Valentine’s dinner, I pulled out a dating journal that my husband and I kept for quite a few years.  We recorded lunch dates, overnighter’s, and weeks away that we were blessed to share during the years our girls were home.  Wow!  It was filled with special memories we had forgotten.  But one thing rang true – we missed our girls while we were away, but those times alone helped shape our relationship.  It made us better parents, and it made our marriage stronger.

We literally had to scrape together every dime  to go on these outings, but it was so well worth it!  I’m thankful we have that journal to remind us of the joy those times away were for us.  Some dates were simply a shared ice cream cone, or a picnic lunch at a nearby park.  As a matter of fact, most outings were minimized in extravagance, but maximized in enjoyment AND effectiveness!   It was always profitable for our relationship.

For any married couple to spend time away together so they might invest in their relationship, will require an investment.  That simply means it is costly.

  • It could require a financial investment.  There are lots of things to do that don’t cost, but most overnighters aren’t free.
  • It will require time – time away from family, away from work and away from all other distractions.
  • It will require a willingness to get honest with one another so you both can make changes that are necessary.
  • The sacrifice of your pride is crucial so you can listen to your spouse without thinking about what you want to say.

After 36+ years of marriage, I would have to say that time away from pressures and demands – even for an hour – is time that helped build our marriage.  It’s so easy to get on two separate tracks when things are so busy.

May I ask you – are you making a true effort to spend time with your spouse – just the two of you so you might talk in depth, pray together, have times of rest, laugh, strengthen one another in the daily grind, and pour into your marriage so you can both be ready to move forward?

Let me encourage you, if you’re wanting to share these times but your husband is reluctant, plan a short outing.  Do something you know HE would love.  Keep it lighthearted and encouraging.  Pour into him.  Bless him with what he needs.  Pray about it, asking the Lord to make your time special.  Keep doing these little outings and work your way into a weekend away.  Allow the Lord to move in his heart.

God has a plan for your marriage and you can trust Him to make it what it needs to be.  But again, time with just the two of your is one important ingredient.  Even though there are no longer children in our home, my husband and I have to get away to really have time to talk and share uninterrupted.  We still need it.  We still love it!

Let me end by sharing some photos of the weekend Sweetheart Retreat my husband spoke at last weekend at The Wilds.  It was a wonderful blessing to our hearts to gather with 80 couples and pour into their lives for two days!  If you’ve never experienced a couples’ retreat at The Wilds, you don’t know what you’re missing!  These pictures will give you an idea of the fun we shared!

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My favorite speaker!
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Fun Time is always full of the good medicine of laughter!!

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This baking skit…oh my!
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Old friends surprised us!

 

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Does this look like CAMP FOOD?!
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More old friends that blessed our time there!
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Love the bookstore!

Valentine’s day is behind us, but you live in your marriage every single day.  Make the most of it by making investments that will benefit your relationship for years to come!

Refresh your marriage – Why not start planning now for an outing?

Who attends couples’ retreats?  Where do you go?

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Christmas · Family life · memories · Prayer

Christmas Favorites 2017

Since I was absent the week after Christmas I didn’t get to share SOME of my favorite pictures and moments.  There were lots of them, but let me show you just a few.

We got to spend an early Christmas weekend with Whitney and her husband.  They’re great hosts – taking us to see the lights in the downtown city near them, fixing great food as you can see below, and giving us a cozy guest room to stay in.  We got to visit their church and loved worshiping with them!  Whitney doesn’t just blog about comfort at home – she lives it out!  Her house was decorated so beautifully for the holidays!

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If you can’t visit Dollywood any other time of the year, you must go at Christmas.  It’s just breathtaking.  We got to go see the lights and shows (many that share the Gospel!) with dear friends and it was a great evening.  Sights like this one are at every turn!

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Our little grandsons were sick on Christmas Eve, so they missed going to their other grandparent’s home or going to church.  However, after the service, we all went to their house where I fixed brunch for all of us.  Then we got to watch these little sweeties open the gifts we gave them and big teddy bears from their great Nana and Papa.  Wow!  That was special.

To see Alli and her husband love and parent these boys is a reminder every day that God answers prayer!

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Christmas afternoon we headed to Kentucky to spend Christmas with my family.  What a special joy it was to have my sisters and our husbands and our parents all together for Christmas Day!  It was also a time to celebrate my dad’s 85th birthday.  We are blessed beyond measure, and so thankful to the Lord for wonderful relationships, and time together to share a meal, laugh (lots!) and praise the Lord for His blessings this past year.

My brother-in-law on the far left has recovered miraculously from a fall from a roof in early September.  To see him standing, walking and enjoying the day with us was a gift in itself!  God sustained him and my sister as she cared tirelessly for his needs all those months.  Many of you prayed for him, and we are grateful.  Thank you.

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I thank the Lord for a wonderful 2017 where I saw the Lord answer prayer after prayer.  Guess what?  On the first day of this year, another longtime prayer was answered!  I can’t wait to see what else God is going to do.

I was moved to tears by many who requested the prayer journal I shared about in the previous post.  Your names are all in my journal and I can’t wait to hear how your prayer life will result in blessings untold as you wait on the Lord to answer!

Be refreshed this weekend as you gather in a local church to study, worship, pray and fellowship!

What was a highlight of your 2017?

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Dates · Family life · memories

Turn Responsibilities into Special Events

We had the blessing of going to Michigan last weekend where my husband officiated a precious wedding for a couple that are members of our church.  The bride’s hometown is in Michigan, so that was the location for their beautiful wedding.  I lived in the Detroit area until I was 13, so it was fun to go back to a place where I have childhood memories.

The wedding itself was just magical. It snowed the day of the wedding, making it the perfect additional touch!  Isn’t the Lord good?!  Christmas weddings can be beautiful just because of the church and its decor.  Their church was a rented church, so it would be both of their weddings, not just the bride’s.  I loved that!  Plus, this church was gorgeous, as was the bride and her attendants.

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After the wedding event, we had the blessing of going to Greenfield Village for their Holiday Nights.  What a fun time we had!  It was romantic, musical, cold, snowy, festive, and fun!  We absolutely loved the whole night!

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No, we didn’t skate, though I really, really wanted to!

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As we were traveling home, my husband stopped for coffee, and beside the coffee shop was a gourmet popcorn shop, Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn Company.  My husband slipped inside while I was in the car.  He bought three different flavors and of the two I’ve tried, I can attest to the fact that their popcorn is some of the best I’ve had!!

It was a busy weekend, but we were so thankful for all the times we had to share special memories together, such as our evening at Greenfield Village, coffee at a new-to-us place, and popcorn on the long trek home.  That wedding weekend wasn’t just special to the couple who got married, it was special to us as a couple!

It’s so important to make special events out of the things that are responsibilities.  Turn an errand to town, a trip to the grocery store, an evening at school performance or ball game by looking for the fun in each of those things.  Put your phone down.  Look at the people around you.  Stop for the caloric Krispy Kreme doughnut and hot chocolate – or the yummy gourmet popcorn!  Enjoy the brief snow flurries by getting out and watching them come down.  Hold hands with your husband while you’re out.  Do the sporadic thing that pops into your head.  Enjoy each moment.  Turn the small things into big things!

Refresh yourself and those around you by turning the little things into big, special things this weekend!

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Christian love · home · Home making · memories · refreshment at home

Happy Imperfections

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I’ll never forget the day we moved into our country home where we are now.  It had just been finished being built! We were moving into our very first brand new house!

It was surreal.

I wasn’t moving into someone else’s mess or used home that needed work – this one was new and perfect!

We had many strong men helping us on move-in day lifting, carrying and lugging all our possessions into our new abode.  One kind man set down a box in my kitchen and I began to slide it closer to the place where it would be unpacked.  His response echoes in my ears even today:

These hardwood floors will scratch up even by a box being slid across them; you better lift that instead.

I followed his wise advice, fearful of causing some imperfection to come to my new and perfect home.

Those words guided the careful application of pads to every chair, table, foot stool, and anything else that was going to be rubbing across the hardwood.  I couldn’t stand the thought of a scratch ruining the looks of my perfect kitchen, hallway or living room.

But alas and alack, over the four years that we have been here, it has happened.  What would that man say if he could see where a can of green beans fell in my pantry and dented the floor there on a day when I was preparing a meal?  Or the heels that have walked across the planks causing scratches, or the other little nicks and bumps that have happened just because people live here, visit here, eat here, spill here, and do life here?

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Perfection isn’t a word that would describe my home, but I’m good with that now.  I’ve come to see those scratches as reminders that people are more important than my perfect standard.  If we lived here alone there would be far less imperfections, but oh, the blessings of belly laughs, happy shedding of tears, playful frolic, nurturing visits, prayerful conversations and loving of souls that we would have missed!

Thank you, sir, for your good advice.  I’m grateful you shared that with me – I really am.  I’ll keep the pads in place and care for my home as a gift from the Lord, but when the marks are added to the hardwood, fingerprints to the glass, or smudges on the walls, I can smile instead of grimace at the happy remembrance of the people that have helped make memories – not imperfections.

Last week when I mopped the floor, I saw a scuff on the floor and started to sigh, but then was reminded of the truths that God has been teaching me about living more for people than perfection.  Instead of sighing, with every stroke of that Swiffer, I thanked God – by name – for the different people who had been in our home.  It made my heart so happy – happy for my perfectly wonderful memories made in my imperfect home.

Do you ever get caught up in wanting your home to look perfect, and feel frustrated that it isn’t? People are more important.  Look at the people, instead of the imperfections, and you’ll have the freedom to use your home to glorify God!

Refresh your heart about your home.

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birthday · Family life · home · memories

Friday Favorites = Family & God’s Faithfulness

This past week could pretty much be summed up with one word – Family!  What a blessing to have a loving family who love God, run to the Throne of Grace with you and for you, and celebrate blessings and weep in sorrows together.  We’ve had pretty much all of that this past week.  It was a reminder of how blessed I am, and I certainly don’t take it for granted.

Last Friday gave me time with my youngest daughter and her two little guys.  How fun it is that they’re getting big enough to ride in the stroller while their mommy and Gigi have lunch and do a little shopping!

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Saturday morning took me to a 10K that my husband ran in.  I’m so proud of his work at his running distance and time.  Staying healthy and fit is important to both of us and he finds running helps him with that goal.  I’m a walker, not a runner, so I stand on the sidelines and cheer him on!  This  was his fourth time to run in this particular race and it was his best time yet!  I’m so proud of him!

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My flower boxes continue to bring a smile to my face, even in this early fall season.  I’m looking for something to transition them into autumn boxes, maybe with some mums and mini pumpkins.

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Sunday afternoon took us to central Kentucky to visit my family.  We had planned to go for Labor Day, but God providentially postponed our trip, knowing what we did not – that our family would be dealing with a crisis the next weekend.  I mentioned what happened in yesterday’s POST.  How grateful we were to be able to be there for my sister and brother-in-law.

We also had the fun of celebrating mine and my sister’s birthdays. My sweet parents grilled delicious steaks, baked potatoes and all the trimmings.

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My mom mixed and my dad churned their famous homemade ice cream to accompany the Tiramisu cake my mom had purchased.  I might have to walk some extra miles this coming week, but it was worth it!

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Winchester, Kentucky is home to the famous Ale-8 One, a ginger soft drink. They’re selling it in East Tennessee now, too!  A friend of mine has purchased it for me locally and been “carded!” but it’s not alcoholic!  It’s purely a soft drink and we love it! We always stock up when we’re home!  Their salsa is also super-good!

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Central Kentucky is beautiful, and I always love getting to visit my home, but the best part about it is spending time with my family that lives there. Our week there was full of family fun and family sorrows, but God’s grace was seen in it all. His grace allowed us to have the sweet times of fun, and it continues to give strength to endure the hardship.  What would we do without the Lord?!

So tell me…

  • How have you seen God’s providence in your life this week?
  • What do you add to fall flower boxes?
  • Who’s heard of Ale-8? Have you tried it?
  • Would you please pray for my brother-in-law, Tim?  He has a long road of recovery ahead of him.  Thank you!

Have a great weekend! Find a place to worship God and be strengthened in His Word!

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