Utah 2007
Mackinac Island, Michigan 2013
Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium 2014
Amsterdam 2014
St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, Louisiana 2013
The Biltmore Estate Winery, Asheville, North Carolina 2006
The Grand Canyon 2007
Niagara Falls, Canada 2006
His mercies are new every morning. Lam. 3:23
Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, Italy 2014

Five Minute Friday: Wait

Five Minute Friday: Wait

Go.

“Wait, what?”

That is the mantra of my 13-year-old and her friends.  They are forever saying these two words to one another until it’s become a silly habit.  I’m thinking, “Are you ever paying attention?”

And then it happens.  This morning, as I teach overloaded with too much coffee and too much cold medicine, a student stands in front of me and rattles a specific need and request…and then she waits for me.  I’m looking at her but I’m not hearing any of the words because of my mind spiraling out of control due to the overload in my head.  And I’m like, “Wait, what?”  I have to ask her to repeat it all once again, because I didn’t get past the first word.

Aren’t we all like that with God?  He nudges us, over and over again, a gentle wooing of our spirit and we continue spiraling through this life like a top out of control, not hearing a word He says.  Then He’ll hit us with a mighty shove and we’ll be like, “Wait, what? Is that you God?  Did you just say something to me?”

Wait for it, then listen when it happens.

May we all wait and not miss the opportunities to be wrapped in the middle of his glorious plan and be used mightily.

31 Days-Day 4-Learn

A water taxi in Venice.

A water taxi in Venice.

When I learned we would be going to Venice, Italy on our tour with Globus Tours, I really didn’t know what to look forward to.  I’d heard of the carnivals and gondola rides before.  Upon entering this wonderful place, the lessons began immediately. 

I learned of a new way to travel.  We entered the city by private water taxi.  It was a wooden boat that looked like a coveted antique.  How we could have entered in any more style is completely unknown to me.

Gondola ride in Venice, Italy

Gondola ride in Venice, Italy

I learned that we can (almost) walk on water; okay, not really!  The city is built on water and is an island off the coast of Italy.  There are small drains throughout the walkways in the city, thus water can seep in during high tide.  One evening while we were there the sea level rose so much that everyone who returned to our hotel was soaked from the knees down.  Flooding like this was very unexpected for this time of year.

Venice, Italy 2014

Venice, Italy 2014

I learned that Venice is rich in history.  It was established between 400-500 A.D. and the canals that run throughout the city developed over many years.

Making Carnival masks.

Making Carnival masks.

I learned how to make a carnival mask.  One of the best things we did while we were there (other than eating the wonderful food) was to make carnival masks.  The young lady told us of the rich history of carnival masks and how they would use this as a means of courting, or for just plain being mischievous. 

St. Mark's Clocktower, Venice, Italy

St. Mark’s Clocktower, Venice, Italy

Going to the top of the clock tower provided for some amazing photos around Venice. 

A view of Venice from St. Mark's Clocktower.

A view of Venice from St. Mark’s Clocktower.

31 Days-Day 3-New

Note:  Soon after I committed to 31 Days, I accepted a long-term sub position.  Wow…I guess I thought I’d have time to write, but that didn’t happen.  The sub position as now ended and I’m back on my 31 Days journey.  I will eventually finish this!

A New Day on Crystal Beach, Texas

A New Day on Crystal Beach, Texas

There’s something about a new day dawning.  I originally said I was going to write about “been there, done that” in my travels for this 31 days and the above photo was taken at Crystal Beach, Texas, the beach I’ve visited since childhood.  I have to make a slight adjustment for today’s five-minute Friday word:  New.  What each new day brings is simply wonderful.  The freshness of a sunrise.  Fresh dew on the ground.  A crispness of the morning—even in Southeast (muggy) Texas, it can take your breath away. 

New beginnings are one of my favorite things.  A new day, a new week, a new month or year.  A chance to start anew is always a welcome experience.  A new project, or simply starting over.  A blank piece of paper can speak volumes to one who loves to create.  A blank, new canvas can enwrap an artist like nothing else.  I love traveling so much because I love to learn of new places.

A newborn babe.

A newborn babe.

Speaking of things new…we are also told to come to the Father as a child, a newborn babe in Christ.  Once we are saved by God’s grace, we are to begin again.  The old has passed away, the new has begun.  Praise God for new beginnings!  We can hold confidence in the fact that God allows do-overs because He is able to make all things new.

31 Days – Day 2 – View

View of the mountains as we travelled through Switzerland 2014

View of the mountains as we travelled through Switzerland 2014

 

What is your view of your vacation destinations?  When I think of Switzerland, I see images like those in “The Sound of Music”.  I think of a majestic mountain views and cows with bells around their necks.  This summer I saw just that and more while traveling through the Swiss Alps with our Globus Tour.

The information from our tour guide gave me a view of the Swiss in which I wasn’t familiar.  They appear to be seen as a very protected country—protective of their land, their people and their security.  I think I’ll run to Switzerland if the security of the US should every be in question.  Every Swiss male is required to serve time in the military after high school and also are required to serve two weeks a year in what is much like our Reserves.  There is a gun for national protection in every household. They are a very loyal people when it comes to security and protection and it is for this reason that they are among the only ones to be guards of the Vatican.

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The day we were traveling through Switzerland, the temperatures began in the 60s and quickly fell to the 50s as we arrived in Zermatt and again fell to the 30s as we neared the top of Gornergrat by cog railway.  It was a foggy day so we didn’t get a good view of the Matterhorn, but it was all beautiful none-the-less.  We enjoyed hot chocolate and shopped for some Swiss made gear—who doesn’t like a Swiss knife? 

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Upon my arrival in Switzerland, I imagined souvenirs like dolls in plaid dresses and chocolate, and I came away from there with a view of a protected fortress and some of the best craftsmen in the world.  This is a place I hope to return to one day.

31 Days of Been There, Done That

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Today starts a challenge by 5-Minute Friday and The Nester to write a blog post every day for 31 days in October.  The 5-Minute Friday page goes even further to encourage us to write each post in just five minutes.  I gladly accept the challenge and will be writing my posts entitled “31 Days of Been There, Done That”.  On each post I will have pictures from our travels, highlight a specific place each day, and each post will be written in precisely five minutes.  One reason writing for just five minutes attracts me is because I figure if you’re going to tell someone about a neat place you’ve visited, you’ll give them your best impression within the first five minutes.  So here goes…

Our most recent vacation was this past summer when we took our family on an 11-day family tour with Globus Travels to Europe.  This is a tour that is made up of 40 people on average and they are all families with children from ages 8-17.  On this tour we had families from Canada, Mexico, Australia and all over the United States.  Any time we travel to a foreign country we will probably travel with a touring group.  This was very fast paced and fully packed with information and history. This was a wonderful memory maker!

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The Eiffel Tower

One of our favorite places and the last city we toured was Paris, France.  Our group went up the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower.  With it being the tallest structure in Paris, we were able to see an amazing view of the city.

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The Flame of Liberty

Like many around the world, I was mesmerized by Princess Diana.  As we were driving by the gold-leafed Flame of Liberty memorial that was erected above the tunnel in which she died, our tour guide mentioned the location as almost an afterthought.  She had no idea how special that memorial was for me.  I was one of those who held vigil around the television when Princess Diana died and mourned with the world that such a beloved ambassador was lost too early.

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Parisians celebrate Bastille Day

While we were there, the Parisians celebrated Bastille Day, similar to an American’s Fourth of July Celebration.  We were enjoying a boat ride down the Seine River in the afternoon and were surprised to see a flyover.  The planes flew so low it was though they were right over the buildings!

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This was as close as we could get to the Mona Lisa

We also went to the Louvre Museum and enjoyed a private tour with an interpreter. As everyone else was casually viewing all of the artwork, our interpreter knew we had limited time and asked how fast we wanted to go.  We told her our vacations were sometimes fast and furious and that is exactly how we saw the Louvre today (my apologies to art museum enthusiasts).  She took us to the top exhibits to be sure we didn’t miss anything especially noteworthy and she was so wonderful that strangers continually tried to listen in—she was quick to let them know we were on a private tour!

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On our private tour of The Louvre.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

Notre Dame Cathedral was breathtaking!  The history in this city was highlighted throughout our tour here.  Our interpreter told us nuggets of information that we simply could not have gotten by reading and touring on our own.  After our tour we enjoyed coffee and freshly made crepes with Nutella at a corner eatery.

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Haagen Dazs, a wonderful ending to our City of Lights visit

We finished off our visit to the City of Lights with a shopping trip down the Champs-Elysees.  Who could pass up a visit to a Haagen Dazs Ice Cream Restaurant?  The servings were true works of art that were quickly devoured.

As I continue 31 Days of Been There, Done That, you may click on the following links to read more:

31 Days – Day 2 – View

For more information about the Five-Minute Friday you can click on the following button:

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Five Minute Friday: Because

The purpose of Five Minute Friday is to write on the posted topic from Kate Motaung for five minutes only, no editing.  Then post it to Kate’s website above.  It’s fun.  It’s easy.  It’s encouraging one another as Christian women.  It’s something I love to do.  Try it!

Go.

Why do I do this subbing thing? Because.

Why spend my days with hormonal 6th grade teens when I don’t have to?  Because.

Why work at a job with no benefits and barely over minimum wage?  Because.  It’s really not about the money.

Why do something with no status to it and one in which you are not a “real” teacher?  Because I love it.

It’s because of the young man who ran to me at the football game last night and hugged me because he was glad to see his teacher.  Then he proceeded to shake my husband’s hand and introduce himself to him.  I was proud to tell my man that this kid was one of the reasons I do what I do.

It’s because of the one who forever offers to help the new blind kid get from class to class and carries his books.

It’s because of the blind kid that jumped up from his seat to engulf me in a bear hug (without any warning!) just because I told him he could read his new braille book the last 10 minutes of class!  Because, me being blinded by my crazy day, I could never see that bear hug coming and I so needed it that day!  Thank you, God!

It’s because of the kids who look at you with a smile as they come into class and say they are praying for their teacher who is not there that day.  Yes, this generation prays.

It’s because my love of learning really is a love affair I’ve had all my life and I want it to be a disease that is catching.

It’s because there really are more good kids out there than the bad ones they promote on the news channel every evening.

Because this is a God given privilege that I don’t take lightly.

Because I’m so very grateful God chose me!

Stop.

Five Minute Friday: Ready

The Five Minute Friday topic this week is READY.  Write for five minutes straight on the topic, and then hit publish with no editing.  Yes, it’s Sunday, but my Friday and Saturday were very busy ones.  Here goes…

Ready

I was ready.

I can see the fluffy, bald man at the podium.  He was asking us if we were ready.  I wanted to be ready just like he seemed to be.  I wanted what he had.

I was at GA Camp one summer when I was around 10 years old and I wanted to bolt down the aisle and ask that man a hundred questions.  Why was he so jolly?  What made him smile so big?  Who is this Jesus I’d heard about since I was little.  It was all becoming so clear all of the sudden.

Could I be like that?  That was the day many of my questions were answered.

I was ready.

I wanted to know as much about the Lord as I possibly could and I wanted to be ready to be with Jesus.  The fluffy, bald man explained to us how we were are all sinners and in need of a Savior.  We cannot be good enough or do enough to get to Heaven.  Jesus came to earth to die for the forgiveness of our sins.  We just need to admit we are sinners, repent and ask the Lord to come into our hearts and take control of our lives.  So that when God looks on us, he will see his Son as payment for our sins and not our own filthy, sinful selves.  Thank God for that!  I needed a Savior to cover me.

After explaining the plan of salvation, he lead us in the sinner’s prayer.  I gladly repeated after him and could not get down that aisle fast enough.  I was ready for some Jesus!

Thank God for the fluffy, bald man who was willing to share Christ with a bunch of little GA girls at summer camp!

Five Minute Friday: Tell

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Tell me the story again.  Tell me how…  Tell me about…

Those questions were asked over and over again to my Nanny.  Oh, how I long to ask just one more question!

Nanny told me how to do many things.  I wish I had taken notes.  When she made a wonderful meal, as she always did, she would say, “Now, Suzie, let me tell you how I did it…”  and the words would flow.  I want that time back.  I want to be sitting and listening at her kitchen table one more time as she tells me how to live, how to cook, how to do something homemade.

We all need the stories from our grandparents.  The how-to’s and don’t do’s.  The encouragement, the love, the faith, the mercy.  Nanny was a balm for a hurting heart.  She was a salve for every sore in my body.  Anytime my world wasn’t tilted just right, I’d ask to go to Nanny’s house.  Just spending time with her as she worked sewing at her machine made my world better.  Oh, the times she tried to tell me how to do things, and I never took note of it!

My memories will forever replay in my mind of a slower life, spent at the foot of this Godly women who knew just how to tell me she cared.

Five Minute Friday: Begin

Lake Maggiore-View from Hotel Dino in Stresa, Italy

Lisa Jo Baker began Five Minute Friday four years ago.  The way Five Minute Friday works is that Lisa gives us one word and we are to write, unedited, whatever comes to our mind, for five minutes straight and no more.  Then, we link it to her page.

This is Lisa’s last week of Five Minute Fridays, as she is passing the baton to Kate Motaung beginning next week.  How timely for our word this week to be BEGIN.

Here’s my five minutes…

Begin

It begins with a word, a step, a breath.  Just do it, in the words of Nike.

You can do this.  It takes just a moment to start and then it all comes tumbling out.  The hurt, the excitement, the energy, the love.  With all the newness of a newborn babe, the possibilities are endless.  What can happen with just one beginning is immeasurable.

You can do this.  Get out your pen, your computer, your sneakers, pick up the phone and begin.  Make the change.

You can do this.  You are not alone.  In the beginning, God.  In all His goodness and mercy, God is there with you.  You are not doing this on your own, for He holds you in the very palm of His hand.

You can do this.  You’ve dreamt many times of this moment.  You’ve drifted off to sleep and woke up wishing this would happen and now it’s time.  Begin.  Take that first step and God will help you with the rest.

You can do this.  This is what you were made to be.  This is what you’ve been waiting for.  Why not start now?

Just…begin.

 

 

 

When in Rome…

 

 

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We’re not sure if we conquered Rome or if it conquered us.  We’re traveling with a touring group in Europe and this trip is not for sissies…but it’s wonderful!    We booked  an extra day before the official tour began and that was the best thing we could have done. It gave us an opportunity to see the Pope on Sunday–along with thousands of other people!  Our tour guide, Freda, told us Pope Francis would be speaking and encouraged us to use that time to visit the Vatican.  Freda has already won us over with her efforts.  Wifi is spotty and weak when available here. I wanted to share a few highlights, though.  This is only working to post from my iPhone so please be patient with me. What a wonderful history lesson this has been!  Check out my Instagram for more photos.

 

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