Category Archives: Travel

What Every Grandmother Needs…

Friends!  Whether you’re already a grandmother or have a friend who’s a grandmother, I’ve got just the book for you and/or for you to give to a friend.

I discovered this book thanks to my sis-in-love, Margee, who gifted me with it when our little Claire Elizabeth was born. The book?  A Grandmother’s Prayers—60 Days of Devotions and Prayer by Kay Swatkowski.

Not only was the book new to me, so was the author, Kay Swatkowski.  I’m already a huge fan of her ideas and creative writing, plus I discovered her blog:  www.americangrandma.com which also offers a wide variety of information.

The book includes sixty devotions.  Each is short, including five parts:

1 – Kay opens with a story which illustrates the point of that day’s devotion.

2 – “Let us pray that…” This part offers points to pray about related to the story along with a Scripture to bring that point home.

3 – A prayer to help us apply this idea into our lives with our grandchildren.

4 – “Think and Do”:  This part includes questions to get us thinking about how to incorporate the devotion’s idea into our lives, sometimes a Scripture to look up and sometimes a children’s book is recommended.  (I grinned after Kay recommended children’s books by Max Lucado on more than one day.  This is yet another reason she and I could be big buddies. Bigger smile.)

I’ve made quite a list of books purely from Kay’s recommendations to look into for reading to Claire and our future grands, Lord willing. (This may be a bit of an investment!)  Kay gives a brief snippet of each book she recommends for younger and older children.

Here are just a few:

 

Bedtime Blessings by John Trent

Just in Case You Ever Wonder, The Crippled Lamb, and The Christmas Child by Max Lucado

God is With You by Larry Libby

My Friend Jesus by Kathryn Slattery

Too Small to Ignore by Wes Stafford

The Lord’s Prayer by Rick Warren

A Child’s Look at the 23rd Psalm by W. Phillip Keller

A children’s adaptation of Les Miserables by Monica Kulling

The Priest with Dirty Clothes by R.C. Sproul

She also recommends reading missionary stories of Gladys Aylward, Mary Slessor, Hudson Taylor, and Jim Elliot.

5Each devotion closes with several Scriptures to reinforce its’ focus.  Each entry is empowering and encouraging for us grandparents to boldly press on praying for our precious grandchildren.

Kay opens the book with a charge of sorts:

“Research reveals that the love and care of the older generation has a positive impact on children in many ways.

One study found a definite link between grandparent involvement and adolescent well-being.

Grandparents provide  not only affection and support, but also wisdom, problem-solving, and stability during times of family crisis…

GOD IS NOT FINISHED WITH US.

WE HAVE A CRITICAL JOB TO DO.”

As God would orchestrate, when our whole family was at the beach in South Carolina in July, I opened Kay’s book to “Day Thirty:  The Sea.”  There I was, on a deck overlooking the ocean while Kay talks about us  being drawn to the sea.

All I have to do is see the sea and my soul begins to stir.  I recharge by the sea better than any other place on this earth.

Kay reminds us, “Our God is a Sea of limitless love and forgiveness. He is a Sea of acceptance and mercy. He is a Sea of strength and comfort…”

When the tide was out, walks on the beach allowed us to tote Claire along in her stroller.

Even this poor guy, having lost an eye and a claw, strolled the beach!

This particular morning, Diana and I started out with Claire in her Baby Bjorn.  It was so hot, Claire immediately fell asleep.  We decided to ditch the walk and grab an iced coffee in the air-conditioned shops.  Certain the whipped cream smothering that coffee was walked off from our other beach walks???

This year’s family vacation not only included the beach, but our new little beach baby.  Please note the wee bit of attention Baby Claire received from all of us:

In the devotional’s closing on the sea, Kay gives several Scriptures to pray, my favorite of which is:

“Let us pray that our children will have the delight of leading their children to an understanding of the deep love of God and of becoming part of one endless line of faith until Christ returns.” (3 John 1:4)

Amen and Amen.

 

Thanks to the Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Mount Pleasant and Charleston, South Carolina for a week of fun for our entire family…What a blessing!

Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Grandchildren, Travel

She Speaks Conference Equips Over 700 Women in Charlotte, NC…

Friends!  Any of y’all interested in writing or speaking?  Pray about attending next year’s She Speaks Conference, hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries (www.proverbs31.org). I had so much fun at the most recent one on July 21st and 22nd, in Charlotte, NC, I just have to share some tidbits with you…

Whether you’ve written a book or are contemplating writing one, or have been speaking various places and think God is calling you to do more speaking, She Speaks is the conference to attend. (7/26-28 are the dates for 2018.)

Due to some perfecto peer pressure a/k/a strong suggestions from my friend, Liz, I signed up for this year’s conference. Not knowing a soul except for Liz Curtis Higgs who would be teaching two workshops and speaking for one of the Main Sessions, I prayed I’d meet some fun friends.  God was gracious.

The morning of registration, I immediately met two gals, one from Wheaton, IL and one from Naples, FL.  We were all three newbies. We had crazy fun connections and promptly agreed to meet up for every meal, sharing tidbits from our workshops.

My new friend, Dawn, and I posed by the She Speaks sign near Registration.  This was a popular photo opp, all of us dumping our book bags which amazingly no one tripped over.

The challenge of the conference was which workshop to sign up for as each one sounded better than the next. Just as an example, here are the ones I took:

“Creating Biblical Content to Engage Your Reader”

“Storytelling on the Page and the Stage”

“Creating a Message That is Powerful, Memorable, and Life Changing”

“How a Small-Time Blogger Can Actually Get a Book Contract”

“60 Things You Can Do to Become a Better Speaker”

“Study Strategies for Teaching Scripture”

The above are a glimpse of the many, many, many workshops offered, plus each attendee had the opportunity to attend Four Main Sessions over the two days with these top-notch speakers:

Pastor Chris Hodges

Chris kicked off the conference Friday morning with a powerful message from Exodus 28 and 29, called “Dress for Success.”  His connection with the Proverbs 31 gals is a sweet one:  One of his children is married to one of Lysa TerKeurst’s children.

Chrystal Evans Hurst is a  fireball like her Dad, Tony Evans, and her sister, Priscilla Shirer. Chrystal equipped us Friday night to take care of ourselves in order to be better used by God. Her stories of biking across the Golden Gate Bridge numerous times were priceless. Some trips were more successful than others, as in “let’s not bleed to death in the process.” (A trip over the handlebars brought about that illustration.)

Sometimes we need to slow down! Rest is a form of worship!

Chrystal also gifted us with several Scriptures, my favorite being:

She closed with, “Be true to your journey, it is enough.”  Amen.

Whitney Capps  was a wonderful wake-up call Saturday morning after many of us had had a sleepless night due to the power going out in our area.  Hotel rooms defined dark and became stuffy hot without the air conditioning.

Whitney remarked that Satan is always trying to thwart her efforts for her messages and this time was no exception…  Seems a snake crawled down into one of the substations and nibbled on some high voltage equipment, causing damage enough to knock out the electricity in a huge grid most of the night.  This included our hotels plus 14,000 other households.  Come on, now!

Here’s the pic the local paper ran:

He looks way too friendly.

Good news is the conference went on as planned, coffee was at the ready, and Whitney preached a meaningful message on “Six Reasons Your Church Needs You.” Thank you, Lord.

Liz Curtis Higgs closed out the conference Saturday night with a bang, working our tear ducts overtime from laughter one minute, to moving testimonials the next.  A few of my favorite quotes from her are:

“Minister to those who are in front of you. Don’t count numbers, because everyone counts to God.”

On writing, Liz encouraged us with, “If He knows every word we are going to say, surely He knows every word we’re going to write.” And I LOVE this:  “You don’t have to write THE best book, you just have to write YOUR best book.”

Obviously, take-home value was at a premium.

One of many bonuses we attendees received was the opportunity to sign up for cd’s of other workshops we weren’t able to attend.  Incredible resources!

Saturday afternoon I rode up the elevator with a gal who had attended this conference the previous year.  She said this year’s conference was so different.  I was astonished because the number of workshops and their variety causes one to wonder how you could keep changing it up?

The brainchild of Lysa TerKeurst, She Speaks ran like a top. Lysa’s beyond blessed to have such a sweet and compassionate team who somehow took all seven hundred of us under their wings!

Here are a few other workshops I also wanted to take but couldn’t squeeze into my two days:

“Writing a Bio That Gets You Hired”

“The Verses That Keep Me Up at Night:  The Risks and Responsibilities of the Christian Writer”

“Creating Your Book Proposal from a Marketing Perspective”

“Guarding Your Capacity to Pace Your Race”

“Finding Soul Rest in the Midst of Busyness”

“How to Write When You Have Kids”

And there were more!

Another bonus of She Speaks was the amazing worship offered before each of the Main Sessions.  Worship  was led by the worship team from Elevation Church in Charlotte.  (www.elevationworship.com )

They were incredible, opening the conference with my current favorite song:  What a Beautiful Name.  Another song they sang I learned they also wrote:  O Come to the Altar.  You can imagine the effect of 700+ gals singing their hearts out.  The Holy Spirit filled the room to its’ brim.

One exciting discovery was learning about the “First 5” app available FOR FREE to us all.  (Go to:  www.first5.org ) Many gals I met were familiar with this app and were “regulars”.  Its’ premise is we all need to plant our faces in Scripture the first five minutes of every day.

The First 5 teachers and writers taught different workshops. It was a blast to meet them and hear from them up close.  They were most gracious in sharing their various methods, all of these gals wise beyond their years.

We attendees also had the opportunity to sign up to meet with publishers and agents.  These were offered on a first-come basis.

She Speaks had about twenty-five people (publishers and agents) to choose from, of which I had to pick five, and of those five, they’d pick two.  How they orchestrated all of this made my head spin.  We each had fifteen minutes for our meetings which evaporated like fifteen seconds.  This was an invaluable experience.

At one point in the worship, as the conference was about to close, I thought, “What if all seven hundred of us goes home, ready to be used by God for God to reach so many for the Kingdom?  What if?”  That’s my prayer for all of us and for any of you considering such an opportunity.

‘Til next time!

 

Liz and I sat together Friday night when Chrystal spoke.

 

 

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Filed under Author Interviews, Conferences, Scripture, Travel

How About a Mission Trip in Your Own Backyard? (With Help from Kelly Minter and Lysa TerKeurst)

Friends!  Ever dreamed of riding an elephant in Africa, spreading the gospel around a campfire, and nestling in a sleeping bag in the open air?  Me neither…

Forgive me, Lord.

Creature of comfort, I loudly confess I adore indoor plumbing, plush pillows and air conditioning…

Fret no more…thanks to two of my favorite authors, I’m about to shed some light on what exactly constitutes a mission trip.

First up is an excellent read by Kelly MinterWherever the River Runs—How a Forgotten People Renewed My Hope in the Gospel.

Kelly shares multiple encouraging stories of her adventures along the Amazon River.  You’ll meet natives-turned-friends, slithering animals, pesky piranhas, maggots in pineapple (!!!) and other reasons to make you do a big fat u-turn back into your very safe driveway.

Kelly’s humor and love for the Lord is so compelling, I admit if she invited me to go with her the next time, I just might accept.  Maybe.  Really, maybe.

Before her first trip to the Amazon, Kelly had about as much excitement as any of us Nervous Nellies.  But, the message she kept hearing from the Lord was, “Go with what you’ve got, and God will supply the rest.” So there’s the trust component.

Then, throw in some major prayer warriors. One of Kelly’s new friends from these trips named Lazaro, had a prayer warrior who prayed for him for years.  Her name is Fatima.  She started what she called Prayer Campaigns and she and her friends didn’t let up. Ever.

Several trips and multiple new friends later, Kelly learned she could ask them for prayer from the States. She said, “Prayer Campaigns lit up the rain forest.”  What a beautiful thought.

Kelly said, “Just hearing Lazaro talk about Fatima, who so purposely prayed for him, a teenage boy, for forty-two hours over seven days, slayed me.

I wanted her passion,

her persistence,

her zeal.

I wanted her love

I wondered if I might hear more from the Lord if I…

waited on Him like Fatima did,

petitioned Him more regularly,

lingered with Him longer…”

I don’t want to spoil Lazaro’s unbelievable story.  You need to read it for yourself.  You will see firsthand with God all things are indeed possible. This is one of many thrilling testimonies Kelly gifts us with.

You also don’t want to miss Kelly’s Mother visiting the Amazon.  Killer funny, all the while poignant.  Especially when she realizes this isn’t a one and done kind of trip.

Kelly’s Mother’s faith becomes contagious and inspirational to all who cross her path and to all who gain the opportunity to hear her speak.  She’s a very brave woman!

While Kelly learns something new on every trip she takes to the Amazon, she never guilts the reader into going to the Amazon.  She points out (to my great relief) that sometimes our greatest opportunities for spreading the Gospel are right under our noses–in our own back yards.

One perfect example of this smacked me in the face just the other morning from something I’m reading…  I’m previewing a Bible study for my Tuesday group for when we resume in the fall.  It is excellent and if you’ve never been to Israel before, here’s your ticket: (The videos are filmed in Israel!)

Checkout Finding I Am by Lysa TeurKerst

I was only on Week Two, Day One when Lysa posed a show-stopping question:

“Do you ever wonder exactly what God wants you to do, especially when you have so many options and demands to manage?”  (Crammed Calendars Anonymous take note…)

Along the same vein as Kelly, Lysa says, “…God just wants us to pay attention to what He places right in front of us.”

“However when I looked at what was right in front of me, at that time, I saw my neighbors.”  Lysa then shares about her family going thru’ a cancer journey with their neighbors, Ken and Mary.  Mary was diagnosed with cancer, ultimately landing in the arms of Jesus. God rest her soul.

Lysa’s family invited Ken to their home for dinner on Monday nights.  They all learned these dinners broke the deafening silence and absence of his wife.

Lysa took it as an assignment from God disregarding the fact she didn’t consider herself a stellar chef. (!!!) Meals didn’t have to be a big production, thus ordering pizzas worked many a night. (Cooking impaired, this brought me great solace and insight!)

She said, “The noise of our family was an orchestra of comfort and healing to Ken’s lonely heart.”  Isn’t that beautiful?

What Lysa’s message that day prompted me to do was to call my across-the-street neighbor.  She’s a very sweet, elderly woman who recently lost her husband to cancer.  I know she’s lonely.

We chat frequently on the street gathering our mail or on the phone and we watch each other’s homes when we’re out of town, picking up each other’s newspapers.

She’s friends with my in-laws and occasionally we all get together.  A small gesture, but exactly what Lysa and Kelly suggest.  Across the street is a little easier than going to the Amazon, same message, same Jesus.  Try it!

The above scenarios are “mission trip” ideas for your own back yard.  Next time we’ll move out into the front yard.  Look out!

I pray you and your families have a happy, safe, and blessed Fourth of July next week. We’ll resume the following week.

‘Til next time!

 

Petite P.S.:  Kelly Minter partners with and is  now on the Board of Justice and Mercy International www.justiceandmercyamazon.org Look for ways to become a sponsor!

 

 

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Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Travel

Does Sitting on the Back of a Harley Count as Exercise? Author Sarah Huxford Helps Us Figure This Out (Part 3 of 4 on Fitness)

Friends!  Well, we’re back on our fitness series, however you’ll be relieved to know this portion is more of a workout for your marriage or relationship with a loved one. 

We had such a rough workout from CycleBar week before last, we’ll warm up slowly this week to prepare for a more rigorous workout and grand finale next week.

Allow me to introduce you to a uniquely titled book:  The Harley Chronicles—Everything I Learned About My Marriage on the Back of a Harley by Sarah Huxford.

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My dear friend Judy Russell gave me this book.  Bob and Judy are good friends with Sarah and her husband, Cam.  Cam is the Senior Pastor at Compassion Christian Church in Savannah, Georgia.  Sarah is the Women’s Community Pastor. www.compassionchristian.com

Cam invites Bob to speak at their church often, so over the years, Judy’s gotten to know Sarah.  Surely they bonded immediately, both being pastor’s wives.

The common thread ends there, however, as Sarah’s husband took up a new hobby.  Oh yeah, a two-wheeled one, only this one comes with a motor.  While I don’t know Cam, somehow I envision him saying to Sarah, “Honey, I bought a hog.” (Sarah, I can commiserate…my husband rode Harleys and BMW’s for over fifteen years. However, you entered into this world later than we did, which seems to be a great thing for you guys!)

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Sarah and Cam had just entered into a new season of their lives.  They had an empty nest.  Not only had their children flown the coop, but sadly their beloved dog, Bucky, went to Doggy Heaven.  Their newfound freedom wasn’t as exciting as they’d hoped…yet…

More-than-they-asked-for-advice was offered and the new solution to their freedom appeared in the driveway.  Meet Big Red. (See his photograph on the cover of her book.)

Sarah confesses she wasn’t too thrilled over the new member of their family, however once Cam said, “Jump on, let’s go for a ride…” The rest, as they say, was history.

I’m proud of Sarah for being so brave.  Not just for jumping on the back of the bike, but also because one should also wear proper attire,  leather being a must.  Her friends from church asked, “Who are you and what have you done with our preacher’s wife?”

The format of the book is excellent.  It offers four parts in each chapter:

1 –  Sarah candidly shares lessons she has learned from being on the back of their Harley.  You’ll crack up over some of her new discoveries.  Her learning curve is highly amusing. Her lessons are for all of us in any relationship.

2 – The lessons are followed by her “Bible Back-up”:  She does a beautiful job with this as these sections are like mini-Bible studies.  Sarah guides us thru’ verses from Genesis, Song of Solomon, Ephesians, Proverbs, 1 Corinthians, and many more.

One eye-opening exercise Sarah takes us thru’ in 1 Corinthians 13 becomes very personal when we’re told to insert our names  where the word “love” is.

Watch this little humbling exercise:

“Elizabeth is patient, Elizabeth is kind, Elizabeth does not envy, Elizabeth is not proud, Elizabeth does not dishonor others, Elizabeth is not easily angered, etc.”

Now YOU try this with YOUR name.  How do you fare??? Makes you think, huh?

Another one of many topics Sarah covers is on commitment.  She says,

commitment

 

She continues, “There is nothing like good old-fashioned commitment. It is undervalued in a culture like ours, in which we want things fixed fast…Cam and I are often asked what made our marriage last and endure the hard times. Our answer is usually simple. We committed to this marriage until one of us dies.”  AMEN, Sarah!

3 – Several discussion questions are included after the Bible study parts which are great for small groups or Bible study groups.

At the end of the discussion questions, Sarah recommends a  book on marriage in each chapter, so you can learn about eight additional books you may be interested in.

4 – The last part of each chapter is another favorite of mine.  Sarah includes “Biker’s Trip Stats and Passenger’s Log”.  This is like a wonderful, fascinating travelogue.  She includes the miles she and Cam rode, the highways they took, “great places to eat”, and their favorite “don’t miss this” sight seeing spots.

Map Reading

This would be wonderful not only for bikers, but for those of us who love road trips.  Sarah and Cam’s trips range from a short 25 mile trip, to longer ones, ranging from 109 miles to over 800 miles.

Let’s look at their trips:

Departure:  Savannah, GA to Tybee Island, GA

Departure:  Baneberry, TN to Fontana, NC

Don’t miss Sarah’s story about The Tail of the Dragon at Deal’s Gap–offering a mere 318 curves in eleven miles in Chapter 3.  She has about as much affinity for it as I do, altho’ I have slayed that dragon,  yet differently than she did.  Checkout our experience from a few years ago.

Departure: Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Key West, FL

Departure: Steamboat Springs, CO to Boulder, CO

Departure:  Somers, MT to Sequim, WA

Departure:  Seattle, WA to Whistler, BC, Canada

Departure:  Lake Louise, AB, Canada to Somers, MT

This week, your exercise in our fitness series is to evaluate your marriage or your relationship with your loved one.  If you were to ride on the back of a Harley, as in being up close and personal, how would you rank your relationship?  Close?  Middle-of-the-road? Distant?  What step can you take this week to make it one notch better than it is now?

I’m praying for all of us in this endeavor.  Thanks again to Sarah, for writing such a fun, resourceful, poignant read.

Lace up your tennis shoes, for we’re hitting the pavement next week!

‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons, Travel

Gift Book, Married for Life—Inspirations from Those Married Fifty Years or More, Inspires All Ages…(Plus Petite Travelogue from Gulf Shores, Alabama)

Friends! Run, don’t walk, to your nearest Hallmark store and grab several copies of a nifty little gift book. (www.hallmark.com ) Married for Life—Inspirations from those Married Fifty Years or More by Russ L. Potter, II and Bill Morelan is a fantastic, enlightening discovery.

My friend Mary gave a copy of this book to our newest daughter-in-love, Diana, at a dinner in her honor before she and John Jr. got married. Fascinated by the title, I peeked inside…

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Every two pages include quotes, devotional-style, from a different couple who have been married fifty years or more. A snippet of how they met comes with their two cents’ worth on what’s kept them married all these years. The advice concludes with a fitting Scripture.

I was so blown away by this power-packed book, I marched out and bought several copies. One for Hubster and me since we’ve just celebrated our thirty-second anniversary, one for each of our married kids, and one for several different couples who recently got engaged. It’s the perfect gift!

One favorite section is entitled: “Never get too old to hold hands.” This comes from Arnold and Hazel Morelan, married on February 17, 1920 in Iola, Kansas.

Old Couple Holding Hands

They say, “Holding hands is one of the most intimate expressions of love between two human beings. Don’t ever let this beautiful act slip away from you…It requires no words; in fact, no words can convey such a profound message.”

They conclude: “Hold your spouse’s hand throughout your life together; don’t ever let it go until the day when you’ve fulfilled every marriage vow and finally release it from your grasp, placing it lovingly, trustingly into the hand of God.” Tear jerker!

Psalm 73:23-24 ties this together:

Psalm 73 23 24

The Life Application Bible reminds us, “From birth to death, God has us continually in His grip. But far more, we have hope in the resurrection. Though our courage and strength may fail, we know that one day we will be raised to life to serve Him forever. He is our security, and we must cling to Him.”

Our family of eight was recently gathered around a table, eating breakfast in Orange Beach, Alabama, right down the beach from Gulf Shores. We’d trekked there for a week of vacation. (Just to pull that off is like herding cats, so we were beyond grateful it came to fruition.)

LT read us this very quote from this devotional. Now that we all have a copy, my prayer is we’ll continue to enjoy the book post-vacation.

God blessed us with picture perfect weather, a beautiful beach to look at, walk on, sit on, play in, and the most fun lazy river pool you’ve ever seen. It was the solution to beating the heat.

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I must share about a very challenging team-building activity we tried: Breakout Games— “A Life-Sized Game of Twists and Turns”. (Checkout www.breakoutgames.com ) See if your town has one!

Grab some friends or family and go try it!  It’s a total blast. I double dog dare ya to watch the “launch video briefing” from the website.  It’ll kick your heartbeat up a notch or two or twenty…

Breakout Games currently offers the following options:

Museum Heist,
The Kidnapping,
Island Escape,
Hostage, and
Operation: Casino.

We chose the Operation: Casino. Our kids turned out to be super smart sleuths, solving puzzle, after clue, after lock combination. Hubster and I pretty much watched them at work, all the while being one hundred percent wide-eyed.

Participants only get an hour to solve the mystery. You’re also blessed with a “Game Keeper” who watches your every move from another room and occasionally gives you a hint or two. Jessica was our Game Keeper. She was the bomb, bless her patient soul.

The instant the door closed, a very large clock started the sixty minute countdown…oh my… I had my doubts, but with the kids’ persistence, I’m happy to report we were able to break out with less than three minutes to spare.

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Lest any of you are claustrophobic, you’re free to leave the room at any time, especially to visit the loo. Just sayin’…You can imagine our dinner conversation after our big breakout!

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We all had “jobs” during our week of vacation, just to throw some more ideas your way…

Each of our newlywed couples had a night where they “got” to cook dinner. We called it a “Cook Off”. (Translation: Mom and Dad have a night off.) Each couple grilled.

We had tilapia tacos one night, steaks-n-potatoes another, and chicken with mozzarella, tomatoes and avocado another, pardon me. We never declared a winner as each meal was so delicious, we couldn’t have possibly chosen just one.

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My equally tough assignment (!!!) was to choose a restaurant to dine in on the nights when the kids weren’t cooking.

Any of y’all heading to Gulf Shores may like to know we LOVED The Gulf (www.thegulf.com). They have a fantastic grouper sandwich as well as a grouper salad in a very festive atmosphere.  We ate at a picnic table right next to the beach.

Since Breakout Games is located at The Wharf (www.alwharf.com), we were able to get a table by the marina at The Villaggio Grille. (www.villaggiogrille.com) The Wharf’s development has only been open a few months, so they’re still trying to fine tune things. Good potential.

Craving a good lasagna as Hubster does nearly nightly, we tried Cafe Grazie (www.cafe-grazie.com) another night. The lasagna was good, but not as pretty as the picture.

I had the grouper with pasta and capers which was delicious. Others of us tried a pizza and different shrimp and pasta dishes. Crab cakes were a big hit. After dinner, we walked out onto the docks and snapped some fun photos:

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Group picture of all eight of us above from left to right are: Woody and LT, John Jr. and Diana, Gordy and Lauren and Hubster and Yours Truly.  The girls’ photo starts with Diana, then Lauren, me, and LT.  Just warmed our hearts to have our kiddos together.

Sadly our last night rolled around way too quickly. We ventured over to Shipps Harbour Grill (www.shippsrestaurant.com) . Big bonus: you could make a reservation.

We tried nearly everything on the menu: oysters on the half shell (not 100% participation there….); smoked tuna dip (delish, but we all ate too many crackers!), fried shrimp and fish, coconut grouper, island mahi mahi, and a crab and brie quesadilla. Our favorite side dish of the night was the smoked gouda mashed potatoes (oh my—to die for!). Our round table of eight led to some massive sharing. This was a favorite.

Finally, let’s look at one more pearl of a quote from Married for Life. At dinner one night, we loved this, given we were at the beach: “Enjoy the simple things—like looking at sunsets.”

Retirement Vacation Concept, Happy Mature Retired Couple Enjoyin

This comes from Auburn and Louise Roland, married December 14, 1935 in Leicester, North Carolina. They say, “When you and your spouse feel the need to get back to basics, to look beyond the clutter and clamor of this bewildering, complicated world and see what really matters, just go outside together for a moment and gaze upward. No matter what time of day it is, you will witness God’s splendor—…”

“…And when a butterfly floats out of the sky and alights nearby, examine it closely and consider, Who but God could have made such a lovely, ‘simple’ thing?”

Large Tree Nymphs butterfly and flowers

As God would orchestrate, Lauren had just been telling us about a neat connection she has with butterflies. Our gracious God literally sent one her way at the perfect time when we’d been in Naples together a few years ago. (Later this month I’ll be sharing about a new website Lauren’s Mother is launching and you’ll be able to read her whole story. It’s the BEST!)

We also realized Gordy’s had a love for butterflies since he was a small child. We have a great picture of him with three butterflies sitting on one hand one summer day. It “just so happened” it was Lauren who read this particular devotion to all of us. Is God the best, or what?

Let’s close with the Scripture this section offers:

Psalm 113:3 says:

Psalm 113 3

We praise you, Lord.

Amen.

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Travel

Come With Me to the Lowcountry (Part 2 of 2)

Greetings, friends! I pray you enjoyed our stops in Beaufort and Bluffton, South Carolina last week. This week, we’re heading to the beach and to Charleston. If you’re traveling that way anytime soon, make note of these restaurants! (Lest you think we ate our way thru’ South Carolina, well, we did.)

Third stop: Isle of Palms, South Carolina

Only an hour and a half from Beaufort, we arrived on the Isle of Palms the next day in time for lunch. (Perish the thought we miss a meal! It’d be sinful to miss a meal in the Lowcountry.)

We stayed in a condo’ in The Village at Wild Dunes. www.wilddunes.com Oh, to be at the beach! Lots of families took up very little space on these huge beaches.

The tides change four times a day. When the tide’s out, it’s a game-changer for families with little kids. They can have their own little tide pools, set up tents, games, you-name-it. We walked for miles and miles. Exhilarating!

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One of our favorite meals happened at a restaurant with quite the moniker: The Obstinate Daughter is on Sullivan’s Island.   Just minutes from the Isle of Palms, we pulled up to a veritable restaurant row. The couple we sat next to also happened to be from Kentucky which made our experience that much more fun. www.theobstinatedaughter.com

If my parents were still living, they’d probably buy that restaurant in my honor and move to South Carolina. This lonely only can be a tad obstinate on occasion!

Restaurateurs will tell you they’re paying homage to the “rich Revolutionary War history of Sullivan’s Island. On June 28, 1776, under the command of Colonel William Moultrie, the defenders of Fort Sullivan foiled the British fleet’s attempt to capture the city of Charleston in the Battle of Sullivan’s Island. This first American Patriots victory inspired a London political cartoon of the defiant defenders of Charleston: ‘Miss Carolina Sullivan, one of the obstinate daughters of America, 1776’.” Who knew?

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Fourth stop: Charleston, South Carolina

After an indulgent breakfast at the Sea Biscuit Café (www.seabiscuitcafeiop.com ), Hubster and I made the short trek over to one of our all-time favorite destinations: Charleston.

bridge to charleston

Arriving just in time to hop in a carriage for a tour, our fiercely strong horse, Riley, carted fourteen of us around town. Riley grew up pulling plows in Amish country, so this was a walk in the park for him. Only once did our guide scold him as he’d try to turn in a different direction, knowing a shortcut to the stable!

Horse named riley

We had to stop for a minute for our tour guide to receive which course he’d be taking us on. Each carriage must register with the city at a tiny little shack, state the name of the horse, and receive a tag telling us which of the three routes we’d be taking. (This is for the express purpose of insuring the horse’s number of work hours aren’t in excess, as well as for the carriage companies’ legitimate registration.)

Thankfully, we were number one for take off, waiting for the next carriage’s return. That meant there were twenty carriages currently stirring about town. (This was ten o’clock in the morning!)

One moment of awe smacked us in the face before we began our tour. While waiting for the okay, we noticed a very elderly man, clad handsomely in a suit, tie, hat, and dress shoes, walking very slowly across the street.

I noticed him first and said, to John, “Oh, no. He’ll never make it across before the light changes.” Suddenly, everyone in our carriage noticed him. We all became apprehensive.

He clearly wasn’t concerned and kept walking. Barely putting one foot in front of the other. He was carrying something which seemed to be too large for his very diminished frame.  And yet, he persevered… As he got closer to our carriage, John said, “Well, will you look at that? He’s carrying a Bible!”

Man with bible

We were reminded of Isaiah 46:4“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Beautiful sight to behold.

Movin’ on with Riley, Charleston’s architecture and history captivated all of us. Cameras were clicking as often as Riley’s hooves were on the street.

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Afterwards, we landed for lunch at a perfect spot with an equally amusing name as the Obstinate Daughter. This restaurant was dubbed S.N.O.B., standing for Slightly North of Broad. (www.snobcharleston.com )

Hubster has a knack for getting us a table sans reservation which still stuns me. We savored Butternut Squash Bisque and a Grilled Salmon Salad that both were to die for.

The twenty-five minute trip back to the beach flew. We were parked on the beach, half asleep before you could say, “Goodbye Charleston.”There’s nothing like hearing the roar of the waves and watching the tide ebb and flow. For a change, we could be still.

We laughed as we were monitoring our blood pressures (long story). Both readings were uncharacteristically low. We said, “Wow, we’re nearly dead! Wonder if that’s the definition of BEING RELAXED?”

Psalm 46:10 is the best reminder of our tremendous trip:

Be Still

With summer upon us, I pray your next vacation brings you peace, awe, savory meals (!!!) and stillness to rest in the Lord.

‘Til next time!

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Come With Me to the Lowcountry… (Part 1 of 2)

Hubster and I recently returned from a fascinating, exploratory trip all over the Lowcountry. We visited Beaufort, Bluffton, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, and Charleston, South Carolina.

We happily consumed massive amounts of, yes, you guessed it: GRITS! (And biscuits, and scrumptious seafood, among other delectable delights.) Our eyes were wide-eyed for grabbing a glimpse of the Lord’s Creation all around us.

Psalm 34:8 reminds us:

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Join me in this petite travelogue. You might enjoy visiting some of these spots this summer or fall!

First stop: Beaufort, South Carolina. We stayed in a way- cool, transformed Motel 6. I kid you not. Check out: www.citylofthotel.com

Rooms have been totally remodeled. Bathrooms are contemporary and attractive. Their coffee shop, City Java and News, wafted delectable aromas early every morning and we indulged three for three mornings.

Hotel

Notice the draping, the railings and the shutters which give the hotel nice dimensions.   They added a small patio with furniture and umbrellas for relaxing on the first floor.   We complied.

Every night we walked to dinner. Historic Beaufort was only a couple of blocks away. Walking on Bay Street, each morning, along the Harbor River was stunning. We couldn’t decide whether to look at the water or the historical homes! Both were beautiful.

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Two of our three nights we walked next door and ate at the Breakwater Restaurant. It was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, obviously, since we went back the next night! www.breakwatersc.com (Notice they also have a location in Greenville.)

One day we had an enjoyable tour of Pinkney Retreat. www.pinkneyretreatsc.com The marsh views with the birds flying over are incredibly peaceful.

Philippians 4:7 fell all over us:

Philippians

The lowcountry architecture is also appealing. They’re really big on porches and charm!

Confession: I had to lower my covet meter in the model home at Pinkney because the décor was beyond gorgeous. (Take the 3D showcase on Pinkney’s website so you can covet with me! Hey, what are friends for?)

Second stop: Bluffton, South Carolina

Only 30-40 minutes from Beaufort, the next day, we drove to a gorgeous development called Palmetto Bluff. We know two couples who have recently bought homes here and we were blessed to visit one of them, Randy and Sue Boehme, for most of the day. The four of us were neighbors when we all lived in Lake Forest several years ago.

I can still hardly talk without tearing up about the four-mile entry, lined with live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, accompanied by gas-lit lanterns every hundred feet. It completely took our breath away.

Savannah, Georgia, USA oak tree lined road at historic Wormsloe

It was like entering a fairyland. I told Hubster if this were our daily entry, I’d be one happy, calm camper. Talk about a no-stress zone. Check out: www.palmettobluff.com

It made me think of one of my favorite verses:

Jeremiah 17:8 – “They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Our visit to Palmetto Bluff began by meeting the Boehmes for lunch at Buffalo’s. It had been some time since we’d seen them, so our reunion was blissfully accompanied by mouth-watering fried green tomatoes for starters, along with an awesome view of the May River.

We could see Hilton Head Island across the water.   A beautiful chapel was right across the street and people were setting up for a wedding reception on the lawn.

Randy and Sue gave us a tour of the development and of their beautiful home. You can’t beat the views from their first and second story porches. When you sit on the swing, you’re looking straight out at the water. If I only had a book…

Lots going on in Palmetto Bluff including golf, horseback riding, skeet shooting, swimming, tennis, boating, plus trails galore for walking or biking. Because they’re big believers in conservation, classes on wildlife are offered frequently. Randy and Sue had recently taken a class on armadillos and one on tagging gators!

American alligator in natural habitat in the Okefenokee swamp

We also discovered a hotel we weren’t familiar with, but loved learning about. We popped in the lobby and lo and behold, it was time for tea, lemonade, and cookies. Yes, we “sampled”.

Pile of chocolate chip cookies

The hotel is called The Montage. In addition to its’ guest rooms, it also has several adorable cottages you can rent, with several more under construction. www.montagehotels.com (Start saving now to stay here! Pricey!)

Finally Randy and Sue took us into Old Bluffton, only five minutes from Palmetto Bluff, which is loaded with shops and restaurants. We barely scratched the surface. It was bustlin’ with people.

Here we are in front of Captain Woody’s. (Don’t miss the photo bomber—could it be Santa?) www.captainwoody’s.com

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Pictured left to right: Randy and Sue Boehme, Yours Truly and Handsome Hubster

Certain this is more than you asked for, for now….Next week we’ll hit the beach on the Isle of Palms and visit Charleston, South Carolina. More great discoveries, foodie stops, and aha moments.

I pray these little “escapes” are blessing you:

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

 ‘Til next time!

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