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!

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!


A Letter to My Church

Hello Friends!  A new month is before us and our sabbatical is behind us!  I’m happy to be returning to daily weekday posts once again.  My heart is full and I’m ready to write, so I hope you’ll stick around to read!

Window seat.jpg

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while:
Mark 6:31

As I sit here on the last day of our sabbatical reflecting over this past month, my heart is truly overwhelmed.  It’s not the kind of overwhelmed that makes you feel desperate due to trouble, but it’s the kind that takes your breath away because you are so grateful.

My gratitude is directed at you, Boones Creek Bible Church

  • To each of you who realized the need for your pastor to have a time to rest. We are abundantly blessed.
  • To those of you who stepped in and took responsibilities not normally your own so that your pastor and wife could be away for a period of time. We are grateful.
  • To each who provided a gift card, a baked good, a treasure from your kitchen, a monetary gift, a place to go and rest, a treat, a game for the yard, music to listen to, and coffee or favorite beverage to sip. We are full.
  • To those who sent notes in the mail to say you missed us. We are touched.
  • To those who had to send an obligatory text to accomplish a task, and apologized for it. We understand.
  • To each of you who prayed for us while we were gone. We are nearer to God.
  • To those who prayed our marriage would be even better. We are closer.
  • To those who asked God to speak to us through His Word. We are deeper.
  • For each who wanted to call or stop by, but didn’t because you wanted to be understanding. We are rested.
  • For those who wondered if we’d ever be back…we are refreshed and we are ready!

You have given us a precious gift, and my heart is full to overflowing with gratitude.  I write this post to say thank you, and to tell you all it’s meant to us, because when I see you on Sunday I’m sure the tears will get in the way.

I know that we are uniquely blessed.  Thank you from the bottom of my (rested) heart.


Denise Signature 150 px


cakes · Crafts · Sabbatical

Sabbatical Post #5 – Something Special Every Day


Before we left on our sabbatical my husband and I joined a couple in prayer.  The Wife prayed,

“Lord, would you just give them something special every day?”

That prayer came to my mind last week, and what a joy to realize that it has surely been answered!  Some days there has been something really special more than once in the day!  But for sure, there has been at least one really special moment each day of the twenty-something days we’ve had thus far!

Let me show you a few of those recent special things…


Click on the pictures to get a closer look.  From top left to right:

We had dinner last weekend at a neat place out in the country – it’s an old general store turned into a restaurant.  The menu item we love most is called a Barbecue Sundae.  It’s a mason jar layered with baked beans, cole slaw and scrumptious barbecue, and topped with a wedge of tomato that makes it look like the cherry on top!  This was my view from my table – the American flag flying just outside the squeaky screen door!

On Friday morning, my husband said, “I’m going yard saling; come go with me and then we’ll stop for a bagel for breakfast!”  We used to love to go hunt through yard sales, but we hadn’t been to one in years, so this was a fun event!  At one house we both found several Christian books by favorite authors, and I also secured a couple of kids Sunday school song CD’s for 50 cents each that I’ll be using in my Bible Club each week.  It was worth our time to get all those items – and for less than one CD would have cost in the store! Even better than the deals was the fun we had doing something spontaneous! We ended with bagels at Wheeler’s Bagels and enjoyed them out on their patio.

I’ve enjoyed having the time to do a couple of crafty things!  I made this Tennessee sign for our patio.  My daughter, Alli, saw something like this and asked me to make her one.  A man at church gave her several pieces of old wood, so after I made hers, I made one for us, too!  I love the way it turned out, and it only took me about 30 minutes, and that includes making my own TN stencil!  You can’t see it too well, but there’s an orange heart marking out East Tennessee!

One afternoon my husband made a small pot of coffee.  He brought me a cup in this pretty Fiesta cup and saucer.  How sweet to swing on the back porch and sip the coffee.  Also, how blessed I am to have a husband who is so thoughtful to search and find the perfect mug for a small cup of afternoon joe!

Alli’s birthday was Sunday, so after we each attended church, she and her husband joined us at our house for a little celebration!

Another crafty thing I got to do is sew slipcovers for my swing’s pillows.  The sun had faded the once red pillows, so this remnant fabric I found at Hobby Lobby gave them a nice, updated look at a small price!

Baking is another love of mine, as you know if you’ve followed my blog for any time.  I got to make these Chocolate Orange Cakes with Ganache for Alli’s birthday. ( I’ve shared the recipe here.)  It was a perfect birthday cake since they’re individual cakes.  The recipe makes 6, so there wasn’t tons of leftover cake.  These are SOOOO good!

My husband attended a conference one night this week, so while he was away, I took the opportunity to do some study out on the back porch.  The quiet and the view were the perfect backdrop to allow the Lord to direct my thoughts as I studied His Word!

On Wednesday I got to another project – I repainted my book cabinet.  I had painted it about 20 years ago, and because stenciling was popular then, I added the stencil.  I thought it was time for an update, so I used the same paint color that I used on my dining room table several years ago.  I also changed out the hardware, once I brought it back inside.  Maybe I’ll do a post about that in September!


I may add a touch of another color on the back of each shelf.  Still thinking about that!

It’s been fun to look for the “special” in each day.  You know, we should do that every day because our God is good and does good. Psalm 119:68

 What special things did you see in your week?

We’re on the countdown of our last week of sabbatical, then I’ll be back to blogging every weekday!

Have a wonderful weekend worshiping (and looking for what special things God will do in your life!).

Stay refreshed,

Denise Signature 150 px