Life's Sweet Journey

Friday, July 25, 2014

5 Summer Happies!!

Hey, there! It's Friday and it's a good day! The sun is shining, my "to do" list is not that long and I plan to soak up some of this last bit of summer goodness!!

I can't believe summer is close to it's end. The flexibility of more free time has been really nice, but I am excited for this upcoming school year and the new adventures it is going to bring (more on that soon). So I thought in all of the lingering summer glory, I would share with you 5 of my favorite summer happies!!
1.) Disney!!
Moments of stolen splendor on summer nights, like in yesterday's post, make my heart so light and happy! And mostly I am loving my MagicBands!! So much so that the other day, I wore two!! Our new customized ones had just came in, so we had brought both in case the new ones hadn't linked yet. Well they had, so I rocked them! Think I might set a new Disney trend! If you are a Disney fan like myself, and live close enough that evening trips are possible, I highly recommend getting an annual pass of some kind. You are probably thinking - just like I did- that the price is to ridiculous, but if you know you will go, it practically pays for itself. It is one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever gotten.
2.) A good book!!
This is a summer essential!! Perfect for sitting outside (or in on a rainy day) with a sweet tea in hand, getting drawn into another world. I am currently reading through the Beautiful Creatures series and I couldn't recommend it more. More on my summer reading list in upcoming weeks, because I have read some great ones (Unwritten was one of my favorites). Next up on my list: The Book Thief. Reviews?
3.) Sunshine and sweet tea!!
So I know this technically 2-in-1, but it is the perfect combination!! I have not been able to make it to the beach much this summer, but I love to be outside (even in the muggy Florida heat), just as long as I have something to keep me cool! I am loving the new Arnold Palmer Coolatta from Dunkin Donuts, but I think my favorite cool down drink is still Starbucks shaken green tea and lemonade, sweetened of course!! I love that my Starbucks knows what I am coming in for and many days you can find me sitting outside in the sunshine, sipping my green tea and reading my book. It's a nice little break in my day!!
4.) Sunless tanner!!
Because I haven't made it to the beach as much as I would have liked, this body of mine is nice and pasty. The Rodan and Fields sunless tanner has become my new friend!! I have tried other sunless tanners in the past and they never worked. They were streaky or looked orange and so I stopped using them. A friend gave this to me to try and I was hooked. So much so, that I now use a lot of the Rodan and Fields products. I usually use three coats (top picture is 2 coats) as I like that color tone the best, one coat will just make a slight difference. I also recommend if you are using it for an event, like a wedding, that you use it on your arms too. Otherwise, you will wind up like me the first time I did it, with super tan legs and a white upper body. Lesson learned (see below)!  
5.) Trip time!!
I love our summer trips!! I look forward to them all year long!! They aren't extravagant, some aren't all that restful, but they are perfect!! We have already been to Tennessee; that's our 'rest-and-renew-and-catch-up-with-wonderful-family' trip. Pretty soon we will be leaving, with 3 kids in tow, for a week in the mountains of North Georgia. This trip is not so restful, but it is wonderful in it's own right. I can't wait for time with my 3 loves (4 I guess, if you count Babe haha), adventures and fun!!
And here is a little happy for you! I ended up with two copies of The Book Thief. I am a book hoarder!! And figured there might be one of you out there who, like me, hasn't gotten to see much sun this summer! So enjoy a little giveaway for your Friday! We can be book reading buddies! 

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Disney Lesson: #2 The Broken Ice Cream Promise

The evening started out with a little hesitancy. When I picked my niece up from school her teachers told me she hadn't napped.

"Oh, no!" thought #1! 
It had also been water play day... water play + no nap = "Oh, no" thought #2. 

The last time I had planned to take her to Disney and she hadn't napped, her response when I asked her if she still wanted to go had been, "Not today. Let's go home and eat yogurt." Then she had been asleep by 8 (which can be early for her). So needless to say, I was a little nervous about how this Disney evening was going to go! But she said she wanted to go, so I booked us some FastPasses and away we went.

Oh how God most have known that I needed a wonderfully, magical Disney evening!! The night was perfect! We flew through our FastPasses, the lines were short, we booked more FastPasses and then by miracle of miracles May was tall enough to ride the Goofy coaster! And she loved it!! We went 4 times!!
Note the before pictures skepticism and the after pictures enthusiasm!!

Uncle Andrew finally completely defeated Zurg!! We watched fireworks while riding on Dumbo and we shut the park down!! What I had assumed would be a quick, cranky trip had turned into all night fun without a single whine or complaint! We were all smiles, all the time! And we had no stroller!! People, it was perfection! Well, almost...

You see, because we were all so happy and she was so good I told her she could have an ice cream. We planned to get it on the way out of the park and enjoy it on the way back to the car. Well, the final parade was making its way down Main Street USA and that held us up. While fighting the parade crowd and squeezing through tiny spaces Makaylin had put her head down on Babe's shoulder and was somewhat drifting off. They had gotten ahead of me and when I finally caught up they were at the popcorn stand, where there was no ice cream like he has assumed there may be. So he says to me "she will be ok, I doubt she will even remember" (the ice cream had been promised much earlier, while we were eating dinner) and I thought to myself - this probably isn't wise, but maybe he's right- and so I said "alright". And just like I am sure you are all thinking, as soon as we stepped one foot out of the park she asks "Aunt Mel, what about my ice cream?" And my stomach just sank!

We walked to the ferry and I told her that I was so sorry, that we left the park but that maybe there would be some on the other side. I could have sworn there was an ice cream cart over there before (Dear Mr. Disney, I promise if you put one there it will be utilized). The whole boat ride back she only asked once for the ice cream, but the look on her face just broke my heart. It would have been perfect; just a little Mickey Ears ice cream bar in hand for her ferry ride back! She had been so amazing and the night had been just what I needed in the midst of a pretty rough week. And I felt like I failed her.
We got back to the transportation station and we go in the little corner shop where I am praying- praying- that they have ice cream. They don't. So I am starting to let her pick out a candy treat, when the guy behind the counter says "wait! I think there is an ice cream vending machine around by the bathrooms. It's not Disney brand, but it's ice cream!" We shout"thanks" as we head out the door. And there it is in all it's ice cream glory... except it's the one vending machine that doesn't take credit cards and what do you know, we only have $2 in cash and the ice cream is $2.75. And so after getting her hopes up again, I have to tell her we still don't get ice cream. She asks why, and that is where our lesson began.

So I tell her what happened, that Uncle Andrew thought she was going to fall asleep and so he left the park without it and that we made a mistake. We talked about how good she had been and how sorry we were she couldn't have her ice cream, but how proud we were of her for being such a big girl. And she looks up at me with her sleepy little eyes and says "he made a mistake?"
"Yes, baby he did. Everybody makes mistakes, even Uncle Andrew." Note: I am somewhat letting him take the fall.
"Ok, well dat's ok. I'm sorry he made a mistake, but it's ok. We can have my ice cream another time."
God love her! God love that night! God love Disney! 

We went back to the shop and walked out with an Ariel Pez. We loaded the tram, ran to the car as we always do (me trying to catch the two of them, always unsuccessfully) and she was asleep within 2 minutes. And while we did learn a little bit about mistakes and that it's ok to make them, I think the biggest Disney lesson from this trip was...

Lesson #2: If you promise the kid ice cream, follow through! Especially because, when they take it so well and don't throw a fit, it hurts your heart that much more!!
*********************************Inside Disney Tip!!*********************************
Dumbo is our new favorite spot to watch the fireworks inside the park! If we stay for the fireworks at all, we will usually try to head over via monorail to the Grand Floridian and watch from a chair on the beach. We don't like the crowds and prefer to watch in a more secluded spot. Dumbo and the circus area were perfect for that!! They felt like they were right over head and the area had very little people in it. There was absolutely no wait for Dumbo. She loved it there and we loved it there! I would highly recommend this spot for anyone looking to enjoy the fireworks without all the fuss!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chisel Me

Sometimes, when you watch something that leaves you speechless the only thing you need to say is, "Wow!" This was great!! I highly recommend watching it. I had never heard of the Skit Guys before and I can't wait to see more!! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sin Boldly

Do you sin boldly? 
No? You should! You should sin boldly. 
Sermons often have a way of rocking me, but some have a way of breaking me wide open. 
They are all just words, words formed by letters, to make a sentence that someone speaks aloud. But it is in that arrangement of those specific letters that one can truly see the power of words, the power in a sermon. They are words laid together just so, so that we can see God at work through the one who is teaching them.

Sin is a short word, comprised of three letters. But it holds so much if we let it... All week long I have heard those words "sin boldly", replayed the question in my mind as I attempt to fall asleep. 

This entire week and all week before that really, I have walked around in a fog. I stopped blogging. I did exactly what I had recently vowed I was not going to do anymore. I wrapped myself in cloak of haze and let myself hide in it. Why? Because I don't want to think. I don't want to remember. I don't want to move forward, because it is painful. I stopped thoughts, because I didn't want to feel the pull that it would bring from my heart. It has been almost a year since my brother died and with it comes the urge to block it all out again. 
But God gets through fog and haze has nothing on Jesus. And so, He met me where I was. He met me where I was so that I could see the question marks that I had been letting eat me from the inside. 

Do I sin boldly? 
That answer would have been no and I would have thought it should be. Sin boldly? Why would I want to sin boldly? And so I leaned in closer and I listened. "You sin boldly, because Jesus is bolder than sin." These words made sense, but not in real terms. And then there was a reference, a reference to a story that always brings me to my knees... the younger brother, the prodigal son. The inaudible intake of breathe, the invisible fingers tightening around my insides was all it took and the tears were pouring out, tears I had been forcing back all week long. This story has so much significance for me and usually without fail any mention of this story will leave me in tears, it has for years. But these tears were different. These tears held so much of what I have been working so hard to repress, because when this story was mentioned- in this particular sermon, in this particular context- I was confronted with all of the questions I have been refusing to acknowledge. The question prosed went something like this, "What if part of the reason the younger brother left in the first place was because his older brother wasn't contrite enough to share his own sins? What if the younger brother felt he could never live up to the expectations set by his older sibling and so he just didn't even care to try?" 
And so in the middle of a sermon, on a Sunday, in the far corner of a sanctuary I broke open. All week long words have been bottling up and now, because another sleepless night can wait, they will bleed out. Cut open, bleeding black and white. 
Was I contrite enough? 
Did I do enough to help a dark situation? 
Did my brother know that my heart could be just as sinful as his?
Did I share my story with him? 
Did I share my sin? 
I brought him to church, I encouraged him to come to reGroup. I did this checklist of things I thought might help him, but how did I do it? Did I say "come, you need this" or did I tell him how much I need it all too? 

I would like to think I did. I would like to think a part of me had gotten better, that I had learned to be more forgiving. I would like to think he remembered my apologizes more than he remembered the words I spewed at him in anger. But then I replay the number of my memories that include bitter undertones. I can't go back, I can't replay the picture. I can only hope that the things I shared with him before he died were enough for him to know just how badly I wanted him in those seats. I am grateful for the year we had before he died, I am grateful for the redemption our relationship had started to see, but I also know that I could have done more. Our stories are our own, but they are also there for the sake of others. Looking back, I wish I had shared more. Not on pen and paper, in my own private way, but out loud with him. I wish I hadn't waited until I had fully understood my own sin to share it with him, because it wasn't enough time. 

I know that these things - these questions and the way I throw them at myself- are a processing step; a self-inflicted guilt pang that will probably heal with scar-tissue that can still be felt from underneath the skin. They are real; they are the questions that I have been pushing to the far corners of my mind because I didn't want to address them. Yet, they are what I need. I need them to be the reminder that my sin should be shared; shared boldly, so that I don't have to question if I could have shared more. Shared boldly so that maybe another "younger brother" doesn't feel the need to run so far away, so that maybe they will want to settle into a seat, that fills a room, that is filled with people who can help tell them of God's grace. 

Sin is a short word, comprised of three letters. But it holds so much if we let it.
God is a short word too, but God will trump sin every time.
He doesn't need to hold any of it for us, He has already let it go. 

Link to hear sermon (preached by Zach Van Dyke) 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Married and Dating

So yesterday, I took someone on a date... 
Not just any ole' date, but to Disney. I must say, since getting our passes I had been planning to do just this. More of a lunch time, mid-day treat type date. However, yesterday I had planned for Babe to join me. Well, due to the soccer game and poor communication skills, I ended up flying solo. So I packed a backpack with all the things dear to "me time"- my books and camera- and I headed on my way. 
I must admit it was strange. Disney is not typically the place people go alone. I did get a few looks while sitting at dinner, with my book as my only companion. I think mainly because I chose to do a seated dinner. I went to Tony's Town Square Restaurant and I would quite recommend this quaint place. I only ordered the tomato and mozzarella salad, but it was delicious and the smells were delightful! 
I had never been and can't wait to try it again. The hostess even found me a seat, even though at first there hadn't been any she thought she could offer me. Following dinner I walked around, planning to just sit and read. I instead decided to take a little Haunted Mansion ride. Yes, the one ride I chose to go it alone was a haunted house. It was perfect! It was dark, I sprawled out across the seat, laid my head against the side rest and let the darkness drawl me in and lull me into a stupor. I rode the boat both over to the park and back and read my book each time. I must admit it did feel kind of fog like, then again this whole week really has for some reason, but it gave me time to ponder to myself as to why. It gave me time to reflect on myself, reflect on where I am at this point in my life and reflect on what true alone time really means. 

I have time alone, but the way I use it it often leaves me outside of my own head. I often frequent lunch spots alone, but mostly those moments find me enveloped in a world on paper- nestled between the pages of a book, cozy in someone else's story. Time to walk with only my thoughts to fill my head was almost surreal. Surreal, but needed. 
So I dare you to date yourself!
Married, single, dating, kids, no kids... wherever you find yourself in life, date yourself! Get to know the you now. I doubt she is the same you as 6 months ago or maybe even the same you as yesterday. I plan to continue dating myself. Just maybe not at the Magic Kingdom. While great, the getting there was a little more complicated than I wanted. But Epcot! I will date myself at Epcot. Explore my way around the "world", while I explore the one inside my head. I am excited, I am scared and I am intrigued. I am intrigued to see where these dates may lead! 

If you took yourself on a date where would be the first place you would want to go?