Featured Friday: What Everybody Ought to Know About Vacation

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Vacation is coming up for me and hubs soon. So, this post by Emily Freeman was much needed. Thought it may encourage you fellow vacationers, too. Originally posted here
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You’ve had the dates marked on the calendar for months by now. Maybe you’ve put down a deposit, bought plane tickets, or simply reserved a shelter at a campsite. No matter how fancy or regular your vacation is, chances are you intend to take one over the next few months.

While you google your way through Disney tips and take notes on how best to pack your suitcase, here are a few good reminders for your soul as you prepare for your vacation.

1. Vacation is more mindset than destination.

You know it’s true because you’ve heard moms yell at their kids on the beach. And also you’vebeen the mom yelling at your kids on the beach.

You’ve had a grumpy old man tell you off for taking his chair on the deck of a cruise ship in the middle of a Caribbean paradise. 

Vacation

If all we needed was a great destination in order to take a real vacation, then everyone on vacation would be happy, peaceful, and good.

But you’ve felt the deep sadness in the sunshine. You know the worries that follow you to the shore. No matter where you go, the list-making, future-looking, failure-rehearsing whir can follow you.

It isn’t the place that brings peace. Only Jesus can do that.

This can be a relief rather than a burden, because it means we don’t need fancy to take a real rest.

2. Vacation starts on Tuesday.

We tend to think vacation is like a week-long Saturday. And it kind of is. But the best vacations start on the regular Tuesday before you leave, the one you spend at home doing laundry, the one where you are packing your bag and preparing your heart for what’s to come.

Walk outside your front door and let the sun highlight your hair today.

Let the minutes pass as you sit and watch the little ones play.

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Stand with your feet in the grass and your face to the wind, close your eyes and breathe in deep. The gifts are waiting quiet in small places. Pause to see them. Pick them up and turn them over. Discover the beauty of slow right where you are.

Because if you can’t settle in to your real life, you won’t be able to settle in on vacation.

3. Maybe stop trying to take a vacation and instead, let your vacation take you.

In other words, let your vacation be what it wants to be rather than you forcing it to be something it isn’t.

Before I leave for vacation I tend to make big plans in my mind: we’ll see this, we’ll eat that, we’ll explore there. I even go beyond events and move into experience: the kids will love this, that meal will be romantic, this night we’ll connect. I will feel rested, lovely, and free!

And then I wonder why two days into vacation I’m grumpy, overly sensitive, and just want to be alone.

All vacations are not created equal. A weekend with girlfriends is different from a weekend with my extended family and all of our kids. It helps to hold all plans with an open hand and move to the relational rhythm of the group I’m with.

Low on expectations, high on love.

4. Your vacation wants you to know that rest takes courage.

Whether you are headed to the coast or if the only vacation you get this year is Saturday and Sunday at home, it’s good to remember that rest doesn’t always come easy. Sometimes it only comes after a fight. The fight isn’t against a person, but an idea — the idea you have in your head that to rest is lazy, useless, or a waste of your time.

You have to fight for rest, and sometimes the fight looks like sitting on the rug with a deck of cards or starting at the ocean for no good reason or sitting by the window without a to-do list in your hand.

Spend a little time letting the sea smooth out the jagged edges that have formed within and around you. Let the salt burn the wounds, let the sand rub off the dead skin, let the nighttime hold you still and quiet until the first light of morning shows up with all her promises.

Let your vacation be a gift, not an expectation. Open hands, light touch, kind heart.

Featured Friday

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“Here we are, living in a world of ‘identity crises’ and most of us have no idea what an identity is. Half the problem is that an identity is something which must be understood intuitively, rather than in terms of provable fact.” – Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet

Featured Friday

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It’s Mother’s Day Weekend! So in celebration, here you go…

Emily Freeman’s toast to mothers:

“Here’s to you, dear mama, with the tired eyes, the impossible schedule, and the sour milk smell all over your clothes.

Here’s to you with the PBS cartoons in the background, eating a handful of goldfish and calling it lunch, with the toddler who just learned the word mine and won’t stop secreting bodily fluids from all of their orifices.

Here’s to you who negotiates bedtimes and snack times with a special kind of finesse, the likes of which Wall Street and Washington have never seen.

Here’s to you who would gladly and without hesitation jump in front of a bus for your children but, for the love, cannot manage to find the energy to make one more PB & J.

Here’s to you leaving work early to pick up ginger ale and saltines for his upset tummy and digging through the trash for the accidentally discarded lovey.

Heres’s to you buying poster board at the only open drug store at 11 pm because someone forgot to mention that science fair project.

Here’s to you making the ten thousandth school lunch, driving them to practice, trying to remember the multiplication tables while you make the dinner they probably won’t eat.

Here’s to you asking for help, letting someone else do the laundry and take them to swim practice because you need a minute.

Here’s to you who fights off guilt, comparison, and shame.

Here’s to you who chooses love, laughter, and a light-heart every chance you get.

Here’s to you who is raising them up all by yourself, doing the job of two parents with the energy of only one.

Here’s to you praying for their friendships, playing in the backyard, buying shoes again.

Here’s to you who doesn’t always have the answers to the endless questions, the patience for their constant demands, or the words to communicate just how much you love them.

Here’s to you cringing in the passenger seat, staying up til curfew, making pizza for bottomless stomachs.

Here’s to you cheering on the sidelines, laughing at their humor, counting down the days.

Here’s to you straightening the bow tie, listening in doorways, braiding her hair.

Here’s to you making reservations, holding up a camera, waving from the driveway.

Here’s to you who prays in the darkness, longs for connection, hopes for the future, and always wants what’s best.

Here’s to you, dear mama, who no longer has children in your house but holds them always in your heart, who leaves backdoors open wide and arms open wider.

Here’s to you – sisters, aunties, grandmas and friends – who do the mother work as you listen, cheer, help, and walk with children in ways only you can do.

Here’s to you who longs for the children you don’t yet have or children you now only hold in your heart.

Here’s to your courage, creativity, and faith.

I raise my coffee mug to you.

And maybe a wine glass or two.

You are exquisite.”

(Originally posted here).

Featured Friday

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A beautiful story of how creation reflects the Creator…

“Paul Smith was born in the 1920s with cerebral palsy, a serious condition that affects the brain. It limited his ability to speak and move. Back then, people with the condition didn’t have much of a life expectancy, and as a result, he was illiterate. When he turned 16, he learned to speak, and at 32 he learned to walk. But there’s one thing very particular about this man. At the age of 11 he started to create paintings using 10 symbols of an old typewriter. You will be amazed at what you are about to see in this video.” (Original Source).

“His joy in life is finding ways to be creative. I think he sees that’s part of why he’s on Earth, why we’re on Earth.”

Featured Friday

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For your Friday, here’s a photo and a few words from my friend Breanna…

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“I’ve been thinking a lot on sobriety; not physical sobriety, but spiritual. Physical drunkenness causes a person to lose their judgement, self-control, alertness, understanding of consequences, and usually leads them to only pay attention to personal desire. Alcohol is not the only means by which a person can be intoxicated and act this way. Many things can intoxicate our minds and distort our perception of reality. Whether it’s anxiety, lust, anger, idolatry, or fear; sin is toxic to our hearts and minds. We as the consumer become the consumed. BUT we have the gospel and grace of Jesus Christ, which like a cold shower or a hearty meal sobers us and brings us to our senses. And the Lord will NEVER grow tired of bringing us back to the reality of His unconditional love for us. IT WAKES US UP. He is faithful when we aren’t. If that doesn’t cause you to boast in your weaknesses all the more, I don’t know what will. Make much of Him today.

Featured Friday

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I’ve loved camping in Exodus and Deutoronmy multiple times over the years. The story of the Israelietes bondage, rescue, wilderness refinement, and arrival in the Promise Land has been so relatable, rich, and influential in my walk with The Lord. So for today, here’s a fellow blogger so beautifully sharing her thoughts and reflections on our personal Promise Lands.

  

Originally posted here by Stephanie Bryant.

“Their toes were still in the sand of wilderness, but their eyes could finally see the Promised Land.

They knew it was for them.

Just waiting for the taking.

Are you in that place? You’ve prayed and longed for “it.” You’ve waited and waited. Now, all of a sudden, God has placed it in front of you.

I’ve become a little obsessed with the Israelites and their story, from slavery to wandering to being chosen to enter into the Promised Land. I’m sure you can identify, too, on some level.

I feel like our little family is on the edge of what God has planned for us. God has set the place in front of us.

I can identify with the Israelites’ excitement, fighting the fears and asking for forgiveness for all the grumbling I’ve done in the waiting.

I believe you and I have a Promised Land this side of heaven. You might name it your calling, your ministry, or your unique design. My Promised Land has even become a physical place.

I’ve seen the giants, the ones we have to fight. Sometimes it’s the sheer size of the project, the overwhelming need, the lack of time and energy. This place is occupied by things I don’t think I can overcome. Even though the Promised Land is always occupied by a real enemy, these “giants” are small in comparison to the true giants of faith.

“Don’t be afraid! The Lord your God is going before you. He will fight for you . . . like He did in Egypt.” {Deuteronomy 1:29}

Just like Jesus fought for you on the cross. Just like Jesus pursued you when you didn’t know Him and didn’t care to. Just like Jesus fought off the ugly voices, the difficult family relationship, the chains of whatever was weighing you down after you met Him. He will fight for you again. Now, on your behalf as you follow God into what He has for you. He has promised it to you. He has planted the desire in your heart, changing you in the process, preparing you for what “is right in front of you.”

I love how God fought for the Israelites when they left Egypt. They did nothing but grab their families and a few belongings and walked out of their chains and into freedom. There was no battle. They followed God out of the gates and into what could have been a special time with the Captain of the Lord’s Army.

Such a wonderful reminder for us to know we don’t have to work for it, fight for it, or wish for it. At the right and opportune time, usually when we least expect it, after a time of purification in the wilderness, God will bring us to the place He has promised.

Let’s cross through the waters and step foot in the Promised Land. He will take care of the rest for you.

Lord, I pray we have been transformed by the wilderness. Forgive us for complaining and griping about the path You took us to get here, the length of our journey and how we initially viewed the Promised Land You want us to occupy for You. Yes, this place You have prepared for us is about You, God, that we might give great care to Your kingdom and people. Silence the giants. Empower us with courage that can only come from the Holy Spirit. Free us from our current bondage and allow us to see Your vision clearly. Let us faith-fully step into possession of all You have promised. Let us continue this adventure guided by You, Lord. Give in abundance, provide all we need, and be the center of our lives in our Promised Land. Be magnified!”

 

Featured Friday

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Today I have a SOUPer recipe to share with you all!

Ever had Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana? Well this is very similar, and i’d even vote better!

I know it’s getting warmer out, and so soup isn’t usually on the menu much during the warmer months, but I believe this is one to have ALL YEAR ROUND because it is THAT GOOD!

We (hubs and I) make a pot of it and it lasts of for two or three meals (depending on how empty our stomachs are and how big our bowls are). We also get a “take and bake” loaf of bread from Kroger to pair with it. SCRUMPTIOUS!

I found this recipe on Pinterest and to see the original posting go here.

So without further ado, I give you…

Sausage, Potato and Spinach Soup

Prep Time 10 minutes (It usually takes me a little longer…)

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 30 minutes

Yield 6 servings

A hearty, comforting soup that’s so easy and simple to make, loaded with tons of fiber and flavor!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf (I substitute 1/4 tsp of Thyme)
  • 1 pound red potatoes, diced
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add Italian sausage and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks; drain excess fat.
  • Stir in garlic, onion, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Stir in chicken broth and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in spinach until it begins to wilt, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in heavy cream until heated through, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Serve immediately.