Summer Date Night Ideas

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One day last week, my husband was cleaning out some of his office boxes that had been stored away in our garage when he came across a stack of preserved letters, notes and cards, most of them written by “Yours truly.”  We began reading them and found ourselves laughing, crying, and rejoicing over the years, the experiences we’ve shared, and the goodness of the Lord in it all.

It became so obvious to me that the written note is so important!  Without that, how would we recall these precious memories?  How would we have remembered how awed we were by God’s provision, or how near the Lord was during that trial?

Since that afternoon, I’ve determined that I must
a.) Continue writing notes.  Texts are great, but in ten years, how will we be able to reread that form of media?
b.) Read through the stack I have tucked away from the 36 years behind us!

Now, here are 30 great Summer Date Night ideas! 

  1. My first encouragement to you about a summer date night is to make a time when you and your spouse can sit down and read through some of your cards and letters you’ve saved.  Go out on your back porch to read them, or take them to the lake where you can sit at a picnic table.  Just do it.  It will remind you where you’ve come from and how special your relationship really is!  I fell in love with my husband all over again!
  2. You don’t have any notes?  Sit down and write your husband one today and leave it in a special place where he’ll find it.  Write it on pretty paper.  Spray a little perfume on it.  Then tuck it away so you can start that file you’ll be able to read again when you’re old and gray.
  3. Make your own Drive-In.  Make the setting outside your home perfect for watching a movie or show on your laptop or tablet.  Turn on the patio lights, light candles, get a bowl of popcorn popped and a comfy swing to share!
  4. Bookstore Date–  I first shared about this here ,and no matter if you have done it before, this date can be done over and over again and it will be new each time.  It’s one of our favorites!
  5. Read your favorite books to one another – or find a new one to read!
  6. Bake cookies together
  7. Watch the sunrise, then make breakfast together
  8. Attend a local baseball game
  9. Go for a long drive
  10. Have a picnic
  11. Play Frisbee
  12. Visit the farmer’s market
  13. Video Record the Story of How You Met & Fell in Love
  14. Cook a Late Night Dinner Together
  15. Write a Prayer List & Pray Together
  16. Make Smoothies or Milkshakes
  17. Share 5 Goals Over a Late Night Snack
  18. Do a Puzzle Together
  19. Play a Game
  20. Have a Chip & Dip Night – Add Conversation
  21. Record Each Other Sharing a Recent Memory
  22. Tackle a FUN Project
  23. Write a Gratitude List about one another
  24. Have an Ice Cream Sundae Night
  25. Search for Funny YouTube Videos
  26. Go to Yard Sales and see who can find the best bargain
  27. Go to the Local Bike Trail and ride bikes.
  28. Enjoy an Outdoor Concert
  29. Begin a Date Night Journal and Write down each time you have a date, what you did and any fun memories you created.
  30. Go to a Theme Park Without your children and leave your phones in the car.  Ride all the water rides.  Eat the snacks.  See the shows.  Stay late for the fireworks!

I hope you’ve had a great first week of June, and I hope some of the ideas shared this week will inspire you to create some fun at home this summer!  Each day is a gift from God and is worth celebrating!  So enjoy!!

Stay refreshed in God’s Word this weekend.  We need Him every single day!

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Summer Fun Series (Day Two)

Here we go – another list of fun things for children to enjoy during summer months:

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This clever treasure box, which is organized around the principle that anything goes, has ample room for plastic bags of beach sand, seed packets, subway tokens, maps, sea glass, photos, finger paintings, invitations or even a tiny book of best friends’ autographs.

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Start with a sturdy cardboard box (one with a lid), which your child can label with his name and the date. As he amasses odds and ends, he can tuck them inside or, if he prefers, glue some onto the outside of the box. To give the box a durable finish, brush on a coat of white glue thinned with water or cover with Con-Tact paper.

Make Homemade balls:

balls
CRAFT MATERIALS:
9 (11-inch) balloons (for 3 balls)
Funnel
2 1/4 cups of dried lentils
Scissors
Time needed: Under 1 Hour
1. Stretch the first balloon by inflating it halfway, holding it closed for about 30 seconds, and deflating it. 2. Place a funnel in the balloon’s neck and gradually pour in 3/4 cup of lentils, pushing them in as you go. The balloon should be firm but squeezable. 3. Snip off the balloon’s thick rubber lip. Cut the neck off a second balloon and gently stretch the opening. 4. Ease the second balloon over the filled balloon, tucking in the neck as you go. 5. Cut the neck off the third balloon, stretch the opening, and ease it over the other two. Repeat this process to make a set of three balls, or however many you’d like.
How about making some cute cupcakes on the day your grass gets cut? What a yummy reward!  Or make these for a great Father’s Day treat! This idea was on Family Fun web site.

lawn mower cupcake
RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
Chocolate-frosted cupcakes
Coconut, flaked
Green food coloring
Hershey’s Nuggets
M&M’s
Frosting
Black licorice laces
1. For each cupcake, mix a handful of flaked coconut with a few drops of green food coloring. Press a chocolate-frosted cupcake into the coconut to cover. 2. The mower is made with a dark chocolate Hershey’s Nuggets body, brown M&M’s wheels, and a red M&M’s engine, held in place with dabs of frosting. 3. Shape the handle from a piece of black licorice lace, then insert the ends into the cupcake.

Make a simple version of homemade ice cream –

What you’ll need:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup milk or half & half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons rock salt
1 pint-size plastic food storage bag (e.g., Ziploc)
1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
Ice cubes

How to make it:
Fill the large bag half full of ice, and add the rock salt. Seal the bag.
Put milk, vanilla, and sugar into the small bag, and seal it.
Place the small bag inside the large one, and seal it again carefully.
Shake until the mixture is ice cream, which takes about 5 minutes.
Wipe off the top of the small bag, then open it carefully. Enjoy!

Tips:
A 1/2 cup milk will make about 1 scoop of ice cream, so double the recipe if you want more. But don’t increase the proportions more that that — a large amount might be too big for kids to pick-up because the ice itself is heavy.

Don’t forget some of the good ol‘ standby summer fun things, such as:

  • Hopscotch on the driveway
  • Hula hoops
  • Sprinkler or water hose jump rope
  • Cardboard boxes – find a refrigerator box and let the kids make a playhouse or puppet stage
  • Make Popsicles
  • Play hide and seek just as it’s getting dark. Use flashlights to tag!
  • Don’t forget the library. There are so many fun things to do there!

Enjoy…summer’s going to be gone before we know it and we’ll be pulling out the sweaters!

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Family Friday – Mother’s Day Dilemnas

That holiday is approaching.  You know, the one where our family bows at our feet, singing our praises for the sacrifices of

  • laundry at midnight
  • science projects aided
  • homemade cookies baked for classroom parties
  • wounds kissed and cleaned
  • A patient, listening ear always ready to fix a relationship problem.

Okay, maybe not.  In reality, likely not.  Not if you still have children in your care.  Not if you’re a single mom.  Not if your husband is caught up in the pressures and stuff of life.  But I’m not here today to shake my finger at them because it’s so easy to forget.

I admit forgetting, too.  As a little girl, I was pretty much only focused on what my mom could and would do for me. Because she was so consistant, I came to expect a hearty meal every day at 5:00, clean clothes in my dresser, hugs when I was mistreated, and words of wisdom to guide my life.  It wasn’t until I became a young adult that I realized how much was sacrificed in order for me to possess that kind of home environment.  It was then that I really learned to say thank you to my loving mom.  I began to comprehend how truly blessed I was.  Every Mother’s Day since then, it’s been my goal to express to her how grateful I am today for all she was and still is.

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So let me stop to say, Mom (Millie Ray), thank you for all you did to make home so special.  Thank you for the meals you prepared that were both delicious and graciously served.  Thank you for taking the effort to decorate our home and keep it clean, and also teach me how to do those household tasks.  Thank you for sacrificing your own career so you could be home for us.  Thank you for loving God and making sure I knew Him, too.  And thank you for loving my dad and showing me that marriage was for keeps.  I appreciated it as a child, but today I once again say thank you and I love you!

To all you readers who are moms, I say, enjoy Mother’s Day by not expecting anything from your family.  Put your thoughts on your mom, or some other woman that the Lord has put in your life to encourage you, love you and support you.  Be grateful for them.  Do something to show your gratitude.  Stop and thank the Lord for your children.  Keep your focus on gratitude, rather than on your expectations. I learned this the hard way!

This is one holiday that makes me hurt for some dear women.  To those of you who wish you were a mom and find pain on this day, I say I’m sorry, and even greater, God understands and sees your grief.  Remember that He is a good, good Father, and don’t doubt His love because He has withheld this from you.

To those who didn’t have a loving mom, I say, God saw, God knows, and that is the reason we needed a Savior.  He gave us His son so we could all understand the greatest kind of sacrificial love.

To those whose mom or child is in heaven, remember that we’ll be joining our loved ones sooner than we think, never to be separated again. I love to think about what my daughter, Ashley is enjoying in heaven at this very moment!

Let’s allow Mother’s Day to find us showing our families that our greatest desire is God’s, “Well Done,” and that the joy of His comfort is enough for every pain in our hearts.  There are many coming behind us that need to learn from us that holidays are man-made, but the joy of being a Christlike woman is God-made!  That’s a gift that only He can give us, and that is enough!

Find refreshment in Christ!

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Our North Myrtle Beach Favorites

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As you may have read, my husband and I were on vacation last week.  We love the North Myrtle Beach area because it’s relatively quiet (especially in late April!).  They’ve added lots of great shopping and restaurants in that area, too, making it one of our favorite places to retreat!  Today I am sharing some of our favorite places and activities when we’re there!

Walking/Running on the beach.

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We love to get up early and walk/run while the sun rises.  It’s invigorating, it’s beautiful and it’s fun!  Time together strolling later in the day is also fun.  Hand in hand, we stop for a look at the pier or a beautiful shell, or to watch the parasailors do their thing.  It’s just so relaxing to walk the shoreline!

Enjoying an ocean front room.

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We spend lots of time on the balcony.  I had my quiet time out there each morning.  We ate our meals out there.  The door is kept open so we can hear the beach any time we’re in the room!  Being ocean-front is like living ON the beach without the sand!

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Eating at Fun restaurants.

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There’s a breakfast place we love – Golden Griddle.  It’s so inexpensive, but the food is great.  I always order from the kids menu and it’s plenty of food for the morning!  There’s always a line out the door, letting you know it’s really good (and worth waiting for!)

We also make sure we eat at Sea Captain’s House.  Their hush puppies alone make it worth the visit!  We had salmon fixed with a Southern twist and it was delicious!  We always share a meal and both of us are filled!!  The view from the window is spectacular!

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Another favorite place not pictured is California Pizza.  The pizza is great, but we also love the atmosphere of sitting in their open air restaurant and enjoying the sights and sounds around us!

Time together!

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What’s better than not feeling in a hurry to get to the next thing?  Time together at the beach is great for our marriage, even as empty-nesters!

The sky!

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These pictures are totally unfiltered.  Every day the view is different and beautiful, pointing to an Awesome Creator!

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We’re home and back into ministry and our daily routines, but how fun it is to look back at our pictures and remember our time away.

How good the Lord is that we vacation at the beach and come home to the mountains! We are indeed blessed!

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Where do you love going on vacation?  What do you do to refresh yourself?

Thanks for stopping in to see our vacation favorites!

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Family Friday – Ten Things This Mom Would Do Again

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My mommy days are behind me now, and as I’m watching others in this special, yet demanding role, I have done some reminiscing over the years when my girls were young.  I have plenty of regrets, as all moms do, but I’m not going to dwell on those, because I can’t change them, and because doing so would not fall under the Philippians 4:8 things I should think about!  It’s in the past. But there are things that were so good about those days.  As I think back, I remember things that we did that I would definitely do again, if I had the chance.

Here they are:

  1. Be a stay-at-home mom.  I’m so thankful that I was there for all but 9 months of both of my girls’ lives.  The nine months I worked were the longest months of my life!  I hated being taken away from my family and my home.  I was under a teaching contract, and I kept my word to the prinicple, but when the school year was done, so was I!  My husband and I decided that it was best for me to pour into our own children, rather than someone else’s!
  2. Be relatively poor.  Does that sound strange?  I would have never anticipated saying that!  Our churches did the best they could to care for us, but when the girls were young, things were tight.  Very tight. As I stated above, I was a stay-at-home mom, so we lived on my husband’s salary alone.  We homeschooled, so we had book fees and satellite costs, which were a large chunk of money every year that we never had on hand.  We were in ministry all those years, and we needed time away – times to rest and refresh as a family and recharge our spiritual batteries and physical bodies.  We had growing girls and we entertained missionaries and guest speakers, so groceries were another cost that stretched us.  Where did we get the money for these things?  We prayed.  Our inefficiencies ran us to our all-sufficient God.  He provided for us in amazing, life-changing ways!  Had we had all the money we wanted or needed, it wouldn’t have taught us to depend on Him so greatly.  Being needy turned into a great blessing.
  3. Read aloud to my girls.  One way we entertained ourselves at bedtime, around the kitchen table, in the car, or on a blanket in the backyard was through books.  We read a varied kind of books, and they were carefully chosen, and opened a whole world to us, even while we stayed home.
  4. Use God’s Word in discipline.  We always sat down and talked with our girls in their bedrooms at discipline times.  We explained from the Scriptures what they had done wrong that God considered sin.  This kept us from acting quickly out of anger (we sent them to their room and we’d cool off before addressing the issue!).  They knew it wasn’t just that mommy and daddy didn’t like what they did, but they saw it in God’s Word, and it guided their thinking and changed their behavior.
  5. Laugh and have fun.  We had lots of laughs as a family.  I should have laughed at myself more, but we shared many fun times around games, out in the snow, in the car playing the alphabet game, baking in the kitchen, or building a fire in the backyard.
  6. Be faithful to Sunday school and church.  It’s not just because we’re a ministry family that we went to church.  We love being in God’s house and with God’s people!  Worshiping, singing, reading Scripture, giving our tithes, and fellowshipping with other believers helped all of us to grow!
  7. Show outward affection and say, “I love you.”  We’re a “touchy” family, in that we hug and love on one another.  Using words to express love between parents and children is so important.  Our children learn how to love by watching us.  The first place they should feel acceptance and unconditional love is at home.
  8. Leave the girls once in a while to go on a date with their dad.  We were making a stronger home for them, and they lived through the trauma of it all!  A parent can feel really guilty leaving a crying child, even though they’re in great hands with grandparents or other caring adults, but without those times away, your relationship will get stagnant, and you’ll only discuss things like empty milk jugs and unfinished homework!
  9. Spend time alone with God every day.  When the girls were small, this time was limited, but I would read what I could and pray over each of my family.  Sometimes it came a verse at a time, with interruptions in between.  Sometimes my prayers were while I was ironing their clothes.  It was then that I’d pray for the one whose clothes I was pressing.  I often left verses on cards around the house so I could meditate on that passage.  Those “little moments” fed my soul and kept my heart right with God so I could parent them and point my girls to Christ.
  10. Marry my girls dad.  I let them know often how much I loved their daddy and how God brought us together.  He had to be my first priority because that’s God’s order.  Why?  Because God knew that I’d be where I am today – an Empty nester, and He wanted my home to be just as fulfilling now as it was when our daughters were here.

And you know what?

It is.

What are you doing right now that you know you’ll be glad you’re doing as a mom?  Keep doing it!  What are you regretting?  Ask God how to change it and watch for how He steps in!  

Refresh your children by being the mom God will enable you to be by His grace.

With love,

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(L)Oven Monday – Easter Dinner 2017 Recap

Easter dinner 2017 a

If you’ve been reading my blog more than a week, you know how I treasure Sunday dinner.  It makes my heart sooo happy! But how does Sunday dinner get even better?  It’s when Sunday dinner is Easter Sunday dinner.  On top of good food, there’s the blessing of remembering Christ’s resurrection from the dead and celebrating that truth that He lives!

So, yesterday, we did indeed have a big Sunday meal, but we started with a wonderful church service where Christ was exalted! We sang of His resurrection and heard God’s truth about how to be sure you can have eternal life!  Then we came home for dinner and included our daughter and son-in-law and a couple of other special people.  We also incorporated a few family traditions, which brings memories and makes memories.  It was a great day!

Here’s the menu:

 Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
Ruth’s Chris’ Sweet Potato Casserole
Tarragon Asparagus – New recipe
Deviled Eggs
Caesar Salad in Parmesan Bowls
Bunny-Shaped Breadsticks – New recipe
Coconut Cake with Lemon Filling

Let me roll the pictures so you can have a peek into our day and see that I also incorporated all the principles I’ve recently shared about Sunday dinner!

I worked early in the week and got the Coconut Cake baked and layers put in the freezer.  Then at the end of the week, I made the lemon curd and the icing.  It simplifies the process so much!  By Saturday night here’s what was already prepped:

The cake, the rolls, the Sweet potato Casserole, Deviled eggs, and the salad ingredients were totally ready. The table was all set, too.  I also had the roasting pan for the ham set out and ready to bake the main entree.

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When I got home from church it only required to put the finishing touches on everything and bake the casserole.

Here’s how things turned out on Sunday~

Caesar Salad in Parmesan Cups –

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Sweet Potato Casserole – The best in my book!

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Terragon Asparagus – This was new, and it was pretty good.  My asparagus wasn’t as fresh as I’ve ever gotten, so I’m going to try this again before giving it a final verdict!

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Bunny Breadsticks – Another new recipe.  These were fantastic on Saturday when I made them, but they don’t really do well the next day.  Sooo, I won’t make these for Sunday any more, but I sure will use this recipe for other days when I have time to make them for that day.  They were delicious right out of the oven!!  And how cute are they???? They can be baked into regular bread sticks if you want to make them other times of the year!

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Coconut Cake

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One tradition that we’ve had for years is Easter sunrise service outside at home.  That was a challenge (and very cold) when we lived in Indiana, but we would don our coats and head to the tree house where we would have our own Sunrise service!  Then we would come inside and have Cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs.  Now that it’s just my husband and me, we simply eat breakfast on the patio and read Scripture together.  It’s usually warm enough that we don’t shiver, thank the Lord!  Here’s what we had yesterday:

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We had Fresh farm eggs, Prosciutto, Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, Fresh fruit and Coffee.
It was a great way to start Easter Sunday!  This is a reminder that traditions aren’t just for when your kids are at home.  Keep those traditions going even when they’re gone.  It will continue to build strong home ties, and will also give your grown kids the security of knowing that you’re still making the most of your marriage!

So, another Easter dinner is in the (memory) books, and I’ll have to say, it’s a memorable chapter!  I thank the Lord for the blessing of celebrating our Savior’s life and getting to do it at church AND at home around the Sunday dinner table.

Did you have Easter dinner?  Did you cook?  What made it special for your family?

With love from my country kitchen,

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Ten Stress-Reducers for Marriage

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For my Family Friday post today, I’m going to share my husband’s great thoughts from his message series of Putting Hope in Your Marriage.  These are practical for every marriage – stress or no stress!

  1. Refresh daily with God’s Word.  Only His Word can help YOU be what you need to be.
  2. Always put your spouse first.  This requires humility…see point #1!
  3. Build together time into your schedule.  If you don’t put it in, it likely won’t happen.
  4. Learn to say “NO.” This means you’re saying, “Yes” to more important things!
  5. Cut out ministries that are burdensome and stale.  If you’re plugging away at a ministry at church with no heart, it’s better to give it up and get refreshed.  This will also allow you time to pour into your marriage, which is your FIRST ministry!
  6. Serve together!  Aquila and Priscilla served as a husband/wife team.  Where could you serve with your spouse rather than away from him?
  7. Communicate clearly and respectfully. Don’t use your words to punish!
  8. Plan ahead. The anticipation of a fun date or time together is half the fun to me!  If you plan it ahead of time, it will help you get through the stress-filled days of life!
  9. Be “touchy.” Hold hands, hug, love with touch.  It’s amazing what a loving hug will do after a hard time, isn’t it?!
  10. Trust God.  That means trust Him together.  Stop together and pray about that stress.  Read a passage of Scripture to your husband that encouraged your heart in the midst of your difficult day.

Thank the Lord for a marriage that can give one another hope in stressful times!  Add some encouragement to your spouse today!

I’m excitedly heading to Michigan today for a Ladies’ Retreat!  It’s cold and snowy up there, but I’m looking so forward to sharing time in God’s Word together!  His Word is like an oasis in the midst of a blizzard, but I’m packing lots of warm layers anyway!!!  I pray you have a refreshing weekend!

Refresh your marriage with hope!

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