Life's Sweet Journey

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tuesdays Together: The Drafting Desk and the Color of Hope

Happy Tuesday Friends!!
This post will be a bit different than recent posts, but I wanted to brag on some of my friends for a bit! I am so blessed to have some pretty incredible people in my life. People who use their stories, their heartbreaks, their imperfections (or uber-perfections that they have a hard time letting go of) and pour their souls open in hopes of letting others know that they aren’t alone. A few of those friends recently took big leaps of faith and today I want to share where that willingness to jump in has found them…

Lindsey and Rebekah are sweet friends that I know through church. Lindsey and I became close when we were working together in children’s ministry, before she moved to Michigan (boo for Florida, but yay for her new home state). We were also part of a sweet writers group. I miss her, but I have loved watching her story continue as she raises her growing family in a place where the seasons change! Lindsey considers herself a recovering perfectionist and, out of desire for her own heart to have something to remind her that it’s all about grace, she reached out to a gal named Rebekah and together they have began The Drafting Desk. It is a monthly newsletter filled with all kinds of goodness for those looking for a reminder to cut yourself some slack. We all need that, don’t we?! Though I wouldn’t consider myself a perfectionist (recovering or otherwise) I often find myself envying people who are. On a day when I have, yet again, failed at daily life tasks like getting my clean laundry off the couch (for the 3rd day in a row) and into the closet, I grind my teeth and curse myself for not being good at "adulting" and wonder if I will ever get better or if my poor husband will be left taking care of all the housework until we are both old and gray! I am looking forward to an inbox full of encouragement reminding me that it’s ok... It’s ok to be myself, flaws and all, because I was saved by Grace and my worth isn’t in the laundry on the couch, or the waffles in the shower (more on that another day), it’s in Jesus. That’s it, that’s all, amen! In Lindsey's own words, "The Drafting Desk is for all of us who are exhausted from the constant pursuit of "better and need encouragement to choose Grace instead of perfection." 

To join in simply head to their site to subscribe and also follow them over on Instagram. Their newsletters include great freebies like monthly printable prayers, plus phone and desktop wallpaper! 
                                                   the color blue and hope

My sweet friend Jenna; her story is one that can often find my heart in my knees and my brain playing through all the ways she shows how strong a person can be with the right amount of hope. Jenna is a mama of 4, with two babies here on Earth with her and two babies who are in heaven and always in her heart. Jenna writes about her journey over on her blog, The Color Blue and Hope, and her words can share her story much better than I could. She has taken the grief of losing her two baby boys and found the strength to make her pain something that can benefit others. Jenna is using The Color Blue and Hope as a platform to create care boxes for women who are fighting for the life of their child while on bed rest and for those who are grieving the loss of an infant. Jenna is loving on these ladies from a place of understanding and helping them to feel cared for.
You can learn more about her plans and read some of her story here on Instagram. You can also donate money towards a box, that will help show a sweet mama that she is not suffering alone, here at GoFundMe. Sadly, so many of us know someone who has lost an infant or we have a friend doing their best to stay in bed because doctors have told them their baby might not make it if they don't. Seeing Jenna use her story to help support those woman is something I feel blessed to get to witness!! 

I am hoping that today finds you with time to lift someone else up, to come together in community and support one another! That's what we are here for; we are here to love each other and cheer one another on! 

Who in your life could use a cheerleader? 
What friends of yours have taken big leaps of faith recently?
Share them, please! I would love to "meet" them!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Flamingos and Fridays and All Things YAY!

FriYay! It's Friday!! 
I love Friday! One, because HELLO WEEKEND! 
Two, because Babe as been gone all week and he comes home today! 

We have been all over the place recently, so I thought I would play a little bit of catch-up around these parts by joining in for a little 5 on Friday! We will start with the most recent first... 

~1~ With Babe gone all week I got to enjoy a healthy dose of home-aloneness! I love the man, dearly, but I also think time apart can be a good thing. A week without Babe typically looks like this: popcorn for dinner EVERY night (Whirley Pop, I LOVE you), scary-slasher film marathon (think Scream; they're my guilty, 90s-kid-at-heart pleasure), total bed-hogging, a super messy house (which I will be cleaning all day since I promised I would try to do housework), and a slumber party with my mom's pup (Babe does not approve of dogs in the bed- don't show him this picture)! Ok, so maybe not the healthiest after all (for my body anyways), but so good for my soul!! I love a little bit of time for me! Plus, it makes me appreciate him all the more... especially when a hurricane might be coming and he asks me to go outside (in the rain, while it's pitch black dark, wearing only my robe) so that I can place sandbags along the length of the french doors. Then, I asked, "well, how do I get back in?!" and he responds that, duh, I have to run to the front... cue complete downpour! Ok Babe, you can come home now!!

~2~ Before Babe left, we took off for the weekend to Rainbow Springs State Park for some river tubing (post coming soon) and I fell even more in love with sweet Freddie the Flamingo! I had originally purchased him for the kids to use on our Georgia trip, but I have since adopted him as my own (which I may or may not have had in mind the whole time)! Flamingos make the absolute best floats and here's why- perfect head rest!! Seriously, the neck of the flamingo is great for all the resting of the head! It can go behind your neck as a cradle or can be folded down behind your back to form a chair; should you wish to sit up a little more! Also, if you want to flip and lay on your stomach, you can rest your chin up on it by tucking it under. Seriously, get yourself a flamingo float! Now all we need is a River Rat for Babe! 

~3~ Babe and I have recently been big into playing games! We have an ongoing rummy game that we have been playing for years, but we have recently been throwing in some other games too. One of my favorites from childhood is SORRY! We pulled it off the shelf and started playing. Then, after the first game, we decided to make it a little more interesting and I came up with the idea for Double Sorry! It is a really neat way to put a little more thought into the game and make it last a bit longer too. Here's how you play: Instead of just having one color you choose two colors. You set them up exactly how you would regularly and begin playing. You don't actually go twice (meaning you don't go once for one color, wait for the other person to go and then go go for the other color), you still go once, but when you draw a card you can choose which color you are going to move. For example, if you were playing yellow and red and you drew a two, you could choose to take either a red piece from start or a yellow piece. Then let's say you get a 5 when you draw again, you could move a piece of the opposite color (i.e. move the red from start, but the yellow 5). The first person to get all of their pieces (of both colors) to Home wins. It adds a little bit more strategy to the game. We love it! 

Any games you love?! Either tweaked or not tweaked?! We would love some good two player game ideas! 

~4~ I just got through listening to the sweetest audio book (thank you Hoopla) for this month's book club! A Man Called Ove is a must read! I wasn't sure if I would like it or not, but my heart was so invested in sweet, grumpy old Ove and his story. He lost his wife a few months before the book takes place and all he wants in the world is to die so that he can be with her, but a rag-tag cast of neighbors, who can't seem to get by without his help, keep getting in the way of ending his life. This story pulled on my heartstrings for so many reasons, but I think a good bit of the pulling may have been because, in some ways, Ove reminded me of Babe- my own grumpy, hard-working, sees-the-world-in-black-and-white, not-so-secretly-soft-hearted, kinda-old man! I found myself dropping sweet tears many times throughout the book as I pictured what our lives might look like as we continue on this journey together. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy (or listen for free on Hoopla-all you need is a library card)! 

~5~ And now, not only is it Friday, but it's the Friday before Labor Day!! Three day weekend, please and thank you!! While we will probably be checking a lot of things off the to-do list this weekend, I am excited for an extra day to spend hanging with friends and relaxing (or doing his favorite thing... housework) with Babe! 

What are your plans for the long weekend?! 
Whatever they may be, I hope it is a wonderful one! 
Happy Friday Y'all!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

#TravelTuesday 7// 5 Great North Georgia Day Trips

Happy Travel Tuesday Friends!!
It's time for another #TravelTuesday Linkup!
 I can't wait to see where everyone has been! 

We just got back from a week in the North Georgia mountains and so this month I am sharing some of our favorite day trips when we are there!! We love Georgia and with so many great options it was hard to pick just 5, but here there are:
Big Canoe in Jasper
Ok, so this one may not be just a day trip, as you can't actually have access to the amenities unless you are staying on site or are a guest of someone who lives there. However, this would make for a great home base location for a week in the Georgia mountains! 
Big Canoe has everything that anyone could want! It wouldn't matter if you planned to go with a group of single friends, are a couple looking for an adventurous getaway, or have a handful of young kids that you need to keep entertained; this place has it all! There are endless amounts of hiking trails, a full gym, two awesome pools (one with a kiddie splash pad area and the other with access to a full array of activities), a lake open for kayaking/canoeing/SUP/paddle-boating, swimming and inflatable water slide play and a rock slide built for a true mountain experience. There is also a gorgeous golf course and tennis facilities to enjoy! You can rent one of the homes from an owner or one of the time share units owned by the management team. It is guard gated access and miles of mountain roads once you pass the gate, so you can also rest assured knowing you are tucked safely away from the rush of any main city. You could actually spend a whole week here and fill your time to the brim (I love this place so much, I just might retire here)! But, there are oh so many other great places to explore nearby...

Amicalola Falls State Park
This is the nearest attraction to Big Canoe, only being about 15 minutes away, but it is also one of the most noteworthy! Amicalola Falls is the tallest, flowing waterfall in the Southeast and makes for a beautiful site to spend the day. We typically make this a pre-lunch trip, before returning to Big Canoe to enjoy lunch and then spend the afternoon cooling off at the lake! There are tons of things you can do:
        - Hiking- There are tons of trails to explore that will lead you to the falls, you can even brave the many, many stairs! However, if you are traveling with young kids, learn from our first year mistake and simply plan to drive to all the stopping points that they have and walk just a small trail into the viewing area. You can stop the car at the base of the falls, at the access point to the bridge that lets you view it up close and at the tip top of the falls. We would have loved to hike it ourselves, but it's a lot more enjoyable to not have to hear, "pick me up!! My shoe has something in it!", the whole way up!
        - Playground- There is an awesome playground near the visitors center that will keep kiddos entertained for hours!!
        - Visitor's Center- The Visitors Center itself if a wonderful place to stop, not only to get trail guides, but also to see the neat little museum that has information on the falls itself and also has live snakes, frogs and other crawly things to take a peek at!
         - Other Amenities- Restaurant with beautiful views, lodge, rental cabins and camping...
And a huge perk is that it is only $5 a car load!!

Alpine Helen

In the last few years, we haven't taken a trip to Big Canoe without doing a day trip over to Helen. Helen makes for a full day of fun! It's just about 1.5 hours to get there from where we stay, so we just pop in a movie for the kids and take in some of the beautiful scenery on the drive there. Helen has something for everyone and here is why:
        - Tubing- Helen is where you go to tube down the Chattahoochee!   You pick one of the two spots to get your tubes and they drive you, by bus, up to the drop in spot. You then spend about 2+ hours tubing down the river and even over some small rapids. Since the kids were big enough to walk we have been going. When they were littler we just put them in the tube with one of us, but now we just get a cord that will allow us to attach together so that they have more freedom, but we can still stay in control if needed. There are often some pretty shallow parts where they can get stuck on rocks that we then need to help them off of. The older kids can do it on their own and enjoy getting to go off ahead of us. You get a good mix of a relaxing float with the added adventure of the little rapids every once in a while and it makes for a fun float!!
        - Water Park Fun- This would probably be what the kids would deem the shining jewel of the day! We choose to tube through Helen Tubing and Water Park and for the money it's a pretty great deal ($20pp; they charge by height so anyone under 42 inches is only $10; note: you can also just get a tubing pass for $12 a day or $5 for once down the river, but it does not include the water park). This year all the kids were tall enough to do the slides and even out youngest niece (age 5) took right too it and they kept going up and sliding down and gave us adults a chance to take a little break (before of course joining in for some sliding)!! The park has two slide choices; a twisty tube slide and a straight down, bump slide that can be done with or without a mat. The awesome thing about the straight down one, especially for littler kids, is that they don't go flying right off the end. Since the girls don't weigh much, the end of the slide is long enough that they stop before falling into the water. They then jump off and swim to the edge, which makes my heart feel more at ease. There is also a shallow lazy river that the girls love to go around in, because they can swim if they want, but they can also touch the bottom the whole way around. It really is a great park to allow adults to feel at ease if they want to get out of the water for a bit while the kids still play! (Note: the other tubing option also has slides, however those are accessed halfway down the river while you tube. Could be fun, we just haven't tried that option as the other park definitely offers more options.)
        - Chocolate Shop and Exploring- Helen is a cute little town set up to look like you are in the Swiss Alps. It makes for a great little place to just explore the shops and take everything in. After we get off the river we typically eat at one of the restaurants (usually the The Troll Tavern under the bridge, next to the river) and then head over to the chocolate shop to pick a treat for the ride home. Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen has a the best fudge, along with a huge assortment of other delicious treats!! If you ever make it to Helen you have to stop in a take a nibble. They offer samples and after one bite, you will be sold!!
We love Helen! It makes for a full day of fun (we typically get there about 11 and eat a packed lunch at the picnic tables before going into the water park to purchase our tickets) and then some super wiped out kids, who crash on the car ride back to Big Canoe! Typically one of our favorite days of the trip!!

Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain might be the contender for best day of the trip depending on who you ask! We didn't get to go this year, as we had to cut two days off of our trip, and our littlest niece kept asking when we were going to go to the top of the mountain and play in the ball room. Sweet girl was sad she didn't get to do Stone Mountain! Honestly, so was I. It can make for a long day for adults, as there can be a lot of walking and kids wanting to be carried, but it is a lot of fun! Here are just a few of the things you can do:
        - Sky Hike Ropes Course- Get harnessed up and brave the heights and the balance beams as you go up the structure! There is a smaller, just off the ground version for those who don't meet the height requirements and our niece could have done that all. day. long! It made her feel so accomplished!
        - Gondola to the Top- There are two options to get to the top of Stone Mountain. We would love the chance to hike it someday, but with kiddos the gondola is the best option since even just walking up the hill to get on makes them ask to be carried. It's definitely a great way to see the whole park on the way up. The view from the top is awesome! You can see the Savannah skyline in the distance.
        - Plantation exploring- One of our favorite things, as the adults, is to visit and explore the old homes they have on site. You go across the street and go into the old plantation setup that they have. You can go in and out of the homes, explore the barn (complete with petting farm) and learn about some of the history. It's a great way for the kids to learn a little while we are gone!
        - The Ball Room- I would say this is one of the kids favorite places! A huge barn is a set up with three levels of play structure for the kids to run loose in. The slides are huge, there are climbing nets to challenge and then the whole place is filled with soft, sponge balls that the kids can collect and load into cannons or into the big ball drop. Though you do have to mind the noise, it is a great spot to get out of the heat for a while and for adults to rest their legs while the kids run around in a confined space (workers man the exits, so kids can not leave the building without the adult the came in with).
        - Laser Show- Once the sun goes down the night ends with a laser light show on the mountain itself. It is a really incredible show and we try to stay through the whole thing when we go! As long as the melt downs haven't begun we will push through, but sometimes we do end up leaving before it is completely over (actually a good way to beat the traffic out). There are fireworks and the show and songs they play are a lot of fun! (Note: Stock up on the glow bracelets at the dollar store and bring them with! They are always selling them there and we learned, after the first year, to bring our own. It keeps the kids entertained while we wait for the show to start!)
        - Other Amenities- 4D movie, mini-golf, train ride around the mountain, the list goes on...
This is always our most expensive day ($36 for adults/ $26 for kids with meal included), but it is totally worth it! You can also stay at Stone Mountain. There are hotels, as well as campgrounds! We can't wait to go and take Flo at some point and do some adult only exploring. There are a lot of trails we haven't gotten to explore! Another fun perk is that during the winter they have Snow Mountain and create snow for tubing and winter play!

Anna Ruby Falls
Anna Ruby Falls is on our North Georgia bucket list! While we haven't gotten to go yet, we pass the sign every time we drive to Helen and are itching to go explore. Our next North Georgia Trip will be with Flo and our plan is to stay at Unicoi State Park where we can go explore Anna Ruby Falls, hike into Helen for the day and finally get to drive down the Georgia winery highway!! Can we go now please?!

If you are planning a trip to North Georgia, I hope this was helpful!! If you weren't before reading this, I hope it has encouraged you to plan one soon!! Especially coming from Florida, it makes for a pretty easy drive and is nice to get a good dose of mountain air for a bit!!

Happy Travels!! 
Where have you been adventuring too?! 
Share your link below and let's travel together! 
~On the 2nd Tuesday of every month I will be sharing a new travel destination and would love to see where you have been exploring! 
~Any linked posts will be pinned under Travel Tuesday on my Pinterest
~No real rules, as I am not a huge fan of those sorts of things! Just add any travel related link and I encourage you to peek around and see where everyone else has been. Leave a little love where you like! 
~Feel free to grab the image from the sidebar and add it to your post so others know where to link up. 
Excited to explore the globe with you all!!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Happy Birthday Flo! 5 Favorite FloRida Moments!!

FriYAY!! Happy Friday Y’all!! We are currently loaded down with 4 kids and a car full of coffee and headed to Georgia for our annual “Aunt-Mel-and-Uncle-Andrew-take-on-the-kiddos” trip!! Believe it or not, this is actually one of our favorite trips of the entire year and one we wouldn’t trade for all the exotic vacations, but we are missing getting to celebrate Flo’s birthday with a Florida adventure!

FloRida Reva has officially been part of the family for a year now! We will be celebrating with a Flo-trip soon, but until then I figured what a perfect time to look back over some of my favorite Flo memories!!

Here are my top 5 favorite moments with Flo:
- Our “get to bring her home” weekend!! She may have been signed and sealed 1 year ago, but we actually didn’t get to pick her up for another two weeks. She had to be checked over, then we had our Georgia trip with the kids and then we finally got to go get her and spend a weekend getting accustomed to all things RV. Still love Lazy Days and all they do to get you set-up properly!

- Flo’s very first trip! If you have never been to Fort DeSoto, go now!!

- Flo’s first out of state trip!! We love Georgia, both in the city and the country!! 

- Our first boondocking experience!

- Manatee Swimming fun in Crystal River!!

The list could go on, but we will stick with those for now! I love all of FloVentures and can’t wait to officially celebrate her birthday in style!! Until then,

Happy Birthday Flo!!

There is also a little shop giveaway going on over on Instagram, to celebrate, so feel free to head over and check it out!!

Happy adventuring friends!! Have a beautiful weekend!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

#TravelTuesday 6// Forever Florida Horseback Riding

Happy Travel Tuesday Y'all!! 

I am working on posting some of our recent Flo adventures, but today I am sharing a little day-cation that took place right in our our backyard! 
It was my soon-to-be-sis-in-law's birthday a few weekends back and, as a surprise, my bro-in-law planned a horseback riding adventure for the 4 of us. Well, I myself and not typically too fond of horses! They are cute to look at and pet, but riding them has never gone well for me. I had never could get the hang of controlling them and having that much "horsepower" out of my control FREAKS ME OUT! So needless to say, I was a little skeptical about how I would ultimately like this little journey. 

Maybe its that whole, "low expectations is the key to life" theory, but I LOVED IT!! It was by far my favorite horseback riding experience to date! 

*Post Update: Groupon currently has some great deals for Forever Florida. From the Thrill Pack- for the zipline experience- to the horseback riding adventure, there are currently some great rates if you book through Groupon.  

Where We Went: 
Forever Florida is this great ranch out in St. Cloud, Florida, which works to preserve some of Florida's natural beauty and history in cattle ranching. They sit on almost 5,000 acres of unspoiled land and our horseback trek took us deep into the heart of it! We were crossing streams, sometimes as deep as the horses rear-end, and exploring the beauty of natural Florida! Our trail ride lasted almost 2 hours and I loved every minute of it. 
Our amazing guide Gabby (I mean seriously, does she not just make you feel like you are an actual cowboy?!) was so helpful and gave me great tips on how to keep my horse in check! But the best thing was, the horses there are so well trained that I didn't even feel like I had to work very hard! My sweet little guy just knew what to do! Gabby also kept us entertained on the trail with stories about Florida's ranching history, as well as the history of Forever Florida itself. I definitely learned some fun facts on our ride! 

Other Options at Forever Florida: 
There are so many fun outdoor adventures to choose from at Forever Florida! There is a specific part of the ranch dedicated to ziplining! Even cooler? They have a zip line roller coaster!! We actually did the zip line adventure package a few years back and it was AWESOME! The coaster is so fun! You can also do zipline racers and jump off a building the same way stunt people do! A huge, and well-worth it, thrill!! 

Gabby was also telling us about the horseback overnight, which she said serves the best cowboy steak you will ever eat for dinner, along with a killer breakfast in the morning. We haven't tried that, but it may have to go on the list! You can also take part in cattle roundups during certain parts of the year or be a cowboy for a day! 

Forever Florida is also a working cattle ranch and sells beef both to the public, but also in the restaurant they have right there on the ranch. That way, when you are done with a long morning of horseback riding, you can refuel before conquering the ziplines! They are often offering discounts for booking two things in one day. 

Where We Ate: 
We decided not to eat at the restaurant and instead headed back into St. Cloud to hit up this BBQ place (you know we love us some BBQ) we had seen on the way there. Meat n Fire BBQ was amazing! A sweet little place where you order at the counter and they bring the food out to you. They have daily specials and I opted for Friday's option of the chopped pork, which came with one side and a drink for about $6.50. Can't beat that; especially considering how delicious is was!! It would definitely me my lunch vote if you head out for a Forever Florida adventure! 

And that was our happy little Florida adventure for this month! 
Where have you been adventuring too?! 
Any local spots that you love near your hometown?