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Thanksgiving in Simpler Times

As I watched my kids’ eyes glaze over from too many video games one Thanksgiving years ago, I recalled my childhood Thanksgivings and realized how lucky I was. We celebrated the holiday at my grandparents’ farm in the days before video games, satellite dishes, streaming devices, computers, and iPhones. As a result, I now have priceless memories of Thanksgiving in simpler times.

Our celebration bordered on a full-blown family reunion for my dad’s side of the family. Grandma especially treasured Thanksgiving because it was her holiday. She always had the dinner at her house, and everyone knew it. It was tradition.

The excitement of Thanksgiving Day started on the drive over to Grandpa and Grandma’s. When we turned off the highway onto the country road, I knew we were almost there. The familiar words “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go” had special meaning to me because they echoed my own experience.

Each year as we reached the farmhouse lane, I wondered which cousins would be there to play with that day. We would have adventures for sure because there were always adventures to be had on the farm. With a little imagination, the lane became a dangerous road filled with wild creatures, rushing rivers, or deep gullies to cross. And cousins made it all the more exiting.

Sometimes we arrived early so my dad could go hunting with the men. He kept his bird dog Cindy on the farm, and she always went wild with excitement when she saw us. The men must have had great times on those hunts together because each time they came back talking, laughing, and poking each other with their elbows like they knew something the rest of us didn’t.

Meanwhile, we all feasted on the heavenly aromas that drifted out of Grandma’s kitchen. The smell of roast turkey, noodles cooking on the stove, and homemade rolls baking in the oven tantalized our taste buds.

When dinner was finally ready, Grandma called us to the kitchen where we gathered for the Thanksgiving blessing. Grandpa called on one of the men to pray, and what a prayer it would be. Our family had a deep Christian heritage and much to be thankful for, especially our Savior Jesus. On other days when Grandpa didn’t pass the privilege on to someone else, I loved to hear him pray. His heart was so full he almost always shed a tear or two when he gave thanks to his Lord.

Not only did our family know how to pray, we knew how to eat! Confident that all of our favorite foods would be there, we filled our plates from the vast array of delectable dishes covering the kitchen counter and stove.

Everything was made from scratch. Packaged noodles, rolls, and ready-made pie crusts were unheard of in our family. Just about every kind of pie known to man tempted us that day—and they were divine. Pumpkin pie was a certainty along with the mincemeat pie Grandma made especially for my dad, but we also got to choose from apple, cherry, lemon meringue, chocolate, coconut cream, and sometimes blackberry or peach. What a difficult decision! The adults usually tried slivers of several different kinds, but I had to have a whole piece. I didn’t like skinny pieces, and neither did the other kids.

The adults ate dinner in the dining room while we kids sat in the kitchen, but that was fine with us. We didn’t want to stick around for the boring conversation after dinner anyway. And we definitely wanted to be busy by clean-up time. We really didn’t have to worry about that, though, because the women seemed to fight for the chance to wash and dry the dishes. I didn’t understand that until I got older.

Since my grandparents didn’t have a television at that time, football didn’t dominate the afternoon. The grown-ups did lots of talking, and the kids did lots of playing and acting silly in general.

If the weather was bad, we played in the basement, which was home to a scary looking coal-eating furnace, Grandma’s washer, a bed, and shelves filled with jars of food from Grandma’s summer canning. We also had room for roughhousing and riding the little John Deere tractor Grandpa kept for us. The basement reverberated with our noise, and before long one of our parents would materialize out of nowhere and try to quiet us. Since that only seemed to work for a few minutes, everyone always hoped for good weather.

When the weather was good, we knew we could count on Grandpa to go outdoors with us. Tramping around the farm with him and listening to all his tall tales was pure heaven. Sometimes we played hide and seek in the barn or got real daring and walked the rafters. I was scared to death to do the things my country cousins dared me to do. I grew up in town and felt as if I was risking my life most of the time.

Grandpa also let us feed the chickens, help milk the cows, and chase the wild kittens that lived in abundance around the barn. He loved us and always made our visits fun.

Thanksgiving was a great day in the life of our family. I’ll be forever grateful, not only for my loved ones, but also for treasured memories of Thanksgiving in simpler times. And now? As I share these memories with my kids and grandkids, their simple country heritage will live on. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord!

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1 NIV

*What aspects of your Thanksgiving celebrations are you especially thankful for?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out early this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

Photo by Ali Gooya on Unsplash

Life on a Higher Plane

Living in small-town Mid-America, we don’t usually have to worry about air traffic control. In fact, we don’t even have to worry about ground traffic control. Ha! However, one morning several years ago when I looked out my front door, I couldn’t believe the activity overhead.

My upturned gaze spotted the jet stream of no less than five planes as they criss-crossed the cloudless blue sky. All of a sudden, another world—a busy world I don’t usually think about—captured my attention.

Since we live about seventy-five miles from the nearest major airport and don’t have many visual reminders of airline activity, the day-in and day-out business of flying the friendly skies isn’t often on my mind. But the sight above me that morning changed all that in an instant.

I got a peek at life on a higher plane (excuse the pun), and it evidently is not only a friendly place (if we believe the ads) but a busy place as well. What’s more amazing is that what I saw is just the tip of the iceberg.

If we had eyes to see and conditions that allowed it, we’d see that this busy scene overhead is taking place across the entire country—and even the world. People are on the move. Life is happening above us at all times.

Another world high above—a heavenly world—captures my attention daily as I worship the Lord and come to him in prayer. But sometimes I forget about all the activity going on around him. Life is happening there. Angels and saints must be on the move at all times. They most certainly are experiencing life on a higher plane!

What’s even more amazing is that if we’ve placed our faith in Christ, if we’ve asked him to be our Savior, we will one day join that heavenly world. We, too, will live life on a higher plane. And that’s some overhead activity I don’t want to miss. That’s the kind of busy I won’t mind!

“Then the angel showed me. . . The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. . . There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:1, 3, 5 NIV

*What are you particularly looking forward to in heaven? If you’ve not yet placed your faith in Christ, I encourage you to do so today!

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Al Pavangkanan, Creative Commons License

15 Dreamy U.S. Venues to Inspire Your Winter Wedding

*Thanks to Siege Media for their help writing and creating this post.

Mother of the Bride, destination weddings are always beautiful and exciting for both the couple and their guests. Destination weddings give everyone the opportunity to take a mini vacation and explore the area where your wedding is being held.

When we think of destination weddings, a summer wedding at the beach or a vineyard event is what usually comes to mind. For something a bit more out-of-the-box, let’s consider some beautiful wedding venues perfect for a winter destination wedding. 

Planning a winter wedding can not only help you stay within budget but can also give you opportunities to get creative and plan a truly unique wedding day. As we all know, wedding costs can accumulate quickly, especially when you book your wedding during peak wedding season. This is why the winter season is perhaps the best time of year to have a budget-friendly wedding. You’ll also have more flexibility when it comes to vendors and venues since it will be a slower season for everyone. 

Winter weddings can help you add creative and warm details your guests are sure to love. Things like blankets or scarves as party favors, a hot cider station, or a hot chocolate bar are just a few fun favorites that will make your wedding cozy and memorable.

Here are a few winter wedding venues highlighted plus a link to them and more below: 

Dunton Hot Springs – Dunton, CO

For a more outdoorsy couple, Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado is great! It’s rustic vibe and crystal white snow background will leave you with little else to add. 

Union Hill Inn – Sonora, CA

This fairytale-like inn is great for couples who want a winter wedding but are feeling a little unsure about heavy snow. The gardens and cottage rooms create an ideal space for any wedding. 

Treehouse Point – Issaquah, WA

One of the most unique venues on this list, Treehouse Point offers a breathtaking area in the middle of the forest full of adorable treehouses for your guests to stay in. Plan your wedding in one of their communal areas for an unforgettable event.

For photos of the above options as well as more venue ideas, check out the full list of winter wedding locations. The roundup includes essential details including peak winter wedding months of each location, capacity, wedding spaces offered, and best nearby lodging for you and your guests.

Have fun with your daughter, MOB, as you consider these winter wonderland destination venues for her big day!

*You might also like to read Favor Help for Winter Weddings, Winter Wedding Cake Idea: Snowflakes!, and Winter Wedding Cake: Pinecones and Baby’s Breath!

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Thanks to CarRentals.com for the images.

Making Our Lives Count: Laura Bush’s Words Still True Today

Several years ago when the tenth anniversary of 9/11 drew near, we heard, saw, and read many reminders of that horrific time. I came across one that year that I think bears repeating here. I hope you will agree.

Woman’s Day Editor-In-Chief (at that time) Elizabeth Mayhew introduced their September issue with a quote from an essay former First Lady Laura Bush wrote for their magazine on the first anniversary of the attacks. I love what Mrs. Bush had to say:

“You don’t have to walk into a burning building or wear a badge to rescue someone. You don’t have to go to medical school to help a person feel better, or walk on the moon to change this earth. You simply have to care about what happens in our country. To me, we can all honor the lives lost on September 11 by making our lives count even more.”

What great perspective Mrs. Bush offered back in 2002—and it’s still true today. Instead of feeling hopeless and helpless in the face of overwhelming times, we can make a difference. We can make our lives count. Sometimes we just need to think about it a bit and then become more intentional in our efforts.

So what can we do to make things better for our nation? We can vote regularly in elections and pray for our leaders. We can treat others with kindness and respect. We can volunteer through our churches and civic organizations when crises come or to help with ongoing projects. We can support our military and their families and volunteer at our communities’ schools. We can also recycle and try to incorporate other earth friendly practices in our lives. The possibilities abound.

In like fashion, we as Christians should be making our lives count for the Lord as well. We can grow closer to him each day, becoming a beacon of hope and good news for those around us. We can live our faith in front of our families and friends in good times and bad, setting an example for our children and grandchildren. We can pray for and encourage others. We can get involved in mission projects and actively support missionaries. We can be ready to share the good news of a Savior as the Lord gives opportunity. Yes, we can make a difference eternally.

Let’s heed the wisdom Mrs. Bush offered on that first anniversary of 9/11. Let’s make our lives count even more.

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Matthew 10:42 NIV

*What else can we do to make a difference in our nation or for Christ?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*I hope this slightly revised post from Sept. 2011 blessed you today!

*Flickr photo by włodiCreative Commons License

Summer Photo Fun: Sisters Trip!

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Summer Photo Fun this year absolutely has to include a few shots of my sisters and me on our first-ever Sisters Trip. As you may remember, my theme word for this year is adventure, and I love how my sisters helped me live an adventure this summer. (Left to right above: me, Carolyn, Debbie, and Janice)

We had a wonderful time together in the Breckenridge, Colorado area making memories and building our already strong sister bond. We are so glad we made time in our schedules for this special time together. We don’t know if we’ll ever manage to pull off such a trip by ourselves again, but at least we’ll always have this trip to remember and rejoice in.

Hope you enjoy a peek at a few of the memories we made!

Debbie's pic of us downtownShopping in Breckenridge our first day. Nothing too strenuous so we could get used to the altitude. Love all their flowers downtown!

IMG_6277With my book release still fresh, I watched for appropriate shops and introduced the book to shop managers. Authors are ever on duty!

IMG_8581The next day was a hiking day. Off to Cucumber Gulch!

IMG_8584We saw lots of gorgeous wildflowers all week long on our hikes. Can you guess what these are?

Debbie's selfie of us on Cucumber Gulch trailWe tried to take selfies throughout the week, but it’s kind of tricky when you’re trying to get four people in the picture :)

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We had so much fun riding the ski lift and then hiking on up to the top of Peak 8 in Breckenridge.

IMG_8760Finished our day in Frisco with homemade ice cream from Foote’s Rest Sweet Shop and Eatery. Extremely yummy, especially after our hike to Rainbow Lake!

IMG_6447On our hike up to the top of the mountain at Hoosier Pass we stopped to catch our breath and get some photos. The altitude, steady climb, and steep portions of the trail along with hiking into the wind made it extremely difficult.

IMG_6483We made it to the top! Very proud and extremely wind-blown! :)

IMG_6469Hiking down was no joke either. Pretty nerve-wracking but we all made it okay.

IMG_6542Some of our last views of Breckenridge before we headed home the next morning. What a great adventure and an amazing time together!

Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth . . .” Isaiah 42:10a

*Do you ever take special trips with a specific part of your family?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter comes out this week. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Photos by me or my sisters