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?

Eternity · Refreshment

Beautiful Things

With so much hardship and struggles in life, it’s easy to overlook the beauty that is all around us. As I took a look back on my week of photos, I found five pictures that reminded me of some beautiful things the Lord allowed me to see this week.

Roses – How gorgeous are the roses above? I purchased them at Kroger and took them to my mom when I visited her and my dad for a few days this week. I cut the greenery in their yard. I love the pink on the edges of the leaves; it just brings out the pink of the roses!

My dad’s love for my mom – After church we went to Applebee’s for dinner and I snapped this picture of him rubbing her back – one of many loving gestures I saw him do for her while I was there. Sixty-six years and counting!

Golden Hour – This stained glass piece at my parent’s is beautiful – especially when the sun is shining through it at sunset.

Morning light – The last morning I was in Kentucky, I looked out my window and the sun was hitting this tree just right. How gorgeous a new day is! How blessed to see the sunrise and watch the light creep into the yard like a little child slipping from their bed and rising to greet their parents.

This is not my obviously not my photo; it belongs to Tara Leigh Cobble, who is leading a tour of Israel. I took a screen shot of her Instagram photo. Since I’ve had the blessing of going to Israel myself, when I saw this picture, I knew immediately that they were on the Sea of Galilee. That boat ride was the highlight of my time in Israel. Its’ beautiful, but it’s also amazing to be on that water and think about Jesus walking on THAT water!

Jesus is the reason for any joy I can experience in this world. Because I have peace with God through Jesus’ finished work on the cross, I can have true joy, even if the day seems bleak and there is no visible beauty. The fact that I am His and He is mine reminds me that this is not all there is. One Day I will live with Him and reign with Him forever. I pray you have that assurance and that joy in your life as well.

Refresh your day by seeing the beauty around you, given by the hands that died for you.

Health · Refreshment

My Fifteen Minute Calisthenic Routine

Oh man, this post is WAY out of the zone of my comfort OR my expertise! Please know that I am no fitness guru as I share this with you! I’m sharing this post because several asked to see my 15-minute routine when I shared this recently about how all the little things add up (and they really do!).

I simply snapped a few photos of what I do to get a little exercise, to keep limber and slightly toned! I’ve been doing these for years. I also try to walk two miles at a brisk pace several times a week. That’s not a lot, but it’s enough to get me outside, keep me moving, and help with bone strength and wellness.

So, if you’re ready, I’ll take a breath and share my simple routine.

Starting with the top left and going across, here’s what I do:

  1. First and second pictures are my sit ups. I do about 30. Hands are at my side so I”m not tempted to pull myself up as I would if my hands were behind my head.
  2. Third picture on top is a stomach killer leg lift. Lay on back and lift legs slowly up and raise until you can touch your toes. Then lower slowly to the floor. I do as many as I can handle, increasing each time.
  3. Long rectangular pictures is a simple routine of touching my toes, side to side. I do 100.
  4. Bottom row, first picture is a squat. Feet slightly apart, keeping spine straight, squat to a slight sitting position, then stand. I do 30.
  5. Bottom row, second picture is a curl from side to side that stretches and trims the waist.
  6. Third pic on bottom is a plank. Hold the position you see in the picture for graduated/increasing times. I’m up to about 1 minute 30 seconds.

Again, I’m no expert, and I’m sure I could be greatly instructed by someone one proficient, but you asked, so there you go!

Are you one who needs to exercise, one who wants to exercise OR are you someone who does exercise? I’d love to know!

Refresh yourself with some calisthenics!

Refreshment · Sabbatical

Sabbatical Fun!

Busy lives don’t lend themselves for time to pursue hobbies. However, our recent sabbatical offered the time to refresh a favorite pasttime.

When I was in high school I took two years of art – not because I was gifted – but because I wanted to learn how to paint. It has been years since I’ve painted anything, but recently I had an itch to try my hand at watercolors. I’ve had so much fun! Here’s my first painting using the cheap watercolors I had on hand from Target! I did purchase watercolor paper so I could blend the colors.

We have so many beautiful barns around us. I decided to snap photos and paint some of them. Here’s the barn that is on my daily walk…

Wow, time painting has been such a blessing. I have a weekly plan to work on my watercolor techniques. I’ve found some great tutorials online that I’m planning on watching. I’m trying to remember that we can each create sabbatical moments! What hobby to do you love that you haven’t taken time for?

We also had the fun of time with my family. We hired a photographer to come and take pictures at my parent’s home. We had never had professional photos taken together. It was a fun and very special evening! I especially love the picture of the back of my parents. Isn’t that sweet?! My mom made the quilt that is in the background (it’s one of MANY she’s made!). Which photo is your favorite?

When we left Kentucky and headed home to Tennessee, we decided to stop for the night in Berea and enjoy the Boone Tavern. I’ve mentioned it before, but this is a super-special place. It is very southern, very elegant, and very restful! Also, their dining room serves amazing meals. If you ever visit, be sure to try their Kentucky Hot Brown! We always leave refreshed and wanting to return! Do you have a special hotel you return to over and over again?

We love sitting outside in the front porch rocking chairs or on the side yard in the shaded garden area. We enjoyed having our morning Quiet Time out there the day we left.

It seems we are always looking for the outdoor spots wherever we are. We love the sunshine and the fresh air!

That’s a wrap for the second week of sabbatical. I hope you’re getting the idea of our time away. Restful, fun, refreshing, and restorative! How we needed it and how thankful we are for that time!

Again, let me remind you that though you many never have a 30-Day sabbatical, we each need to create sabbatical moments. Our minds, hearts and bodies need it so we can press on and serve with strength, energy and a full heart of love for God!

I’d love to hear your answers to the questions I posed in the post!

Refresh your own heart with some fun!

Refreshment · Sabbatical

Our Sabbatical Weeks and How You can Create a Period of Rest for Yourself

My sweet husband made this breakfast feast for me on the first day of our sabbatical!

You may never have a sabbatical, but at the end of this post I’m going to share how you can create your own times of rest on a weekly basis, so keep reading!

As of yesterday, July 1, my husband and I completed our month-long Sabbatical. Wow. Our hearts are so full of all the things the Lord has done during those precious 30 days! You can be sure that I kept a journal each day to recount what was happening, what we were doing, and how the Lord was speaking to my heart.

I thought perhaps you would be interested to see how we spent some of our days. I mean, what do you do with 30 days of no ministry when it normally fills every day of the year?

We got outside. We got to choose the month for our sabbatical, and we chose June for a couple of reasons – one being that we love summertime and being outdoors. We took opportunities for drives to beautiful spots where we saw the hand of God. Here it is beautifully displayed in this double rainbow at Watauga Lake!

We enjoyed celebrations. The first day of June was Tennessee’s birthday. Jonesborough is the oldest city in the state, so the governor here came to speak briefly to the large crowd that gathered. The Oak Ridge Boys were there to sing the anthem and a couple of their oldies. It was the perfect beginning event! They were really popular in 1981, the year we were married, so their songs were pretty nostalgic. Anyone remember Elvira?!

So patriotic and fun to enjoy Tennessee’s birthday at an outdoor event!

We rested and read. We spent about five wonderful and quiet days at a lake cottage friends of ours graciously loaned to us. There’s no Internet; that in itself makes it a vacation! The beauty surrounding the cottage is always breathtaking and so relaxing!

One thing I prayed about were the books I should read. The Lord clearly led me to each one – even the fictional book about a pastor who takes an interim pastorate at an island church. There were so many parallels in our lives. But just having time to read was so wonderful!

We invested in our marriage. My husband chose a month-long devotional for couples that he found on-line and we read it together each day. It was on the love languages. You would think that at 40 years, we would each know the other’s love language, but this was a real learning time for both of us! Just having time to talk as a couple with no distractions, to read this devotional and pray together was another huge blessing.

We visited churches. Each Sunday we visited a new church in the area where we were. That was a blessing and also a time of learning. When you’re always in your own church, you don’t see your blind spots. As we visited other churches, it made us aware of things that might need change or adjusting in our own church. The preaching and worship (in most cases) were a true joy.

Now, how can YOU create your own regular period of rest in order to refresh yourself and be ready for the work ahead? Remember that we rest so we can work. It’s easy to think “I’ve worked hard; I deserve a rest!” But God’s directives to His people were that they would rest on the Sabbath so they could work the rest of the week. I began taking a “Sabbath rest” early last spring. Here’s my formula for refreshing myself each week:

  1. Choose one day a week for your Sabbath. For ministry families, Sunday is generally the busiest day of the week, so my day is Friday. It doesn’t have to be Sunday. Choose the day when you can really rest.
  2. Determine to spend quality time in God’s Word and prayer.
  3. Keep your busyness and chatter to a minimum.
  4. Decide what kind of things will fill your time. This doesn’t mean filling your day with busy things, but if you normally are doing work with your hands, then choose things that would work you mind. Read, work a puzzle, memorize a passage of Scripture. If you are normally working with your mind, do work with your hands. Work in the yard, organize or clean, work on a project.
  5. Rest. Allow yourself time to sleep in and/or take a nap.
  6. Get outside. Take a walk, ride bikes, go swimming. Sit outside and read.
  7. Spend time with those that will aid your rest.This isn’t the day for planning events or giving counsel. Spend time with others who will refresh you and you them.
  8. Plan ahead so your meals will be “easy” meals. Either prep a meal ahead and have it ready for the oven, or go out or pick up carry-out.

Does this Sabbath rest appeal to you? Does it seem do-able? I’d encourage you to pray about it and ask the Lord to help you come up with the best plan for you and then implement it as soon as possible!

Refresh yourself with a Sabbath rest!