Friday, January 19, 2018

Five on Friday - How Traveling Makes It Real

A weekly feature here on my blog sharing five FRESH random photos (or thoughts or interesting tidbits) from the week.

This week I've been preparing for an interview with my new friend Zanny, owner of Zanur Travel and the Fearless Female Traveller Facebook Group. I'll be sharing about How Traveling Makes It Real based on the five points below.

1. Visiting a place makes it real!

No matter how many photos or documentaries I'd seen, nothing prepared me for the vastness and beauty of the Grand Canyon. I was completely awed at the sheer magnitude of this natural wonder. After spending a day hiking along the South Rim Trail, this place is much more real to me than it was when I'd only read about it or seen photos taken by someone else.

While we can learn a lot by reading and studying history, actually visiting historical sites helps us remember and understand even more about the past. Before we visited Gettysburg a few years ago, I read The Killer Angels, a well-researched fictionalized account of the Battle of Gettysburg, and we watched the Gettysburg movie. However, when I stood on the actual battlefield, it seemed so much more real and it was easier to comprehend how that battle became one of the bloodiest engagements of the Civil War.

2. Traveling increases the real enjoyment we get from reading or watching movies or TV shows. 

For example, after we visited New York in 2007, there were a slew of end-of-the-world movies set in New York City. It was so FUN to see the camera pan by places we'd just visited. And when Tony Stark sat down by the box of pizza Obadiah brought him from New York (in the Iron Man movie), we both recognized the box and our mouths watered wishing for a slice of Famous Ray's pizza.

3. Real experiences give us better understanding.

After visiting large cities like New York and London, I have a greater appreciation of the challenges and conveniences of public transportation. Before those trips, it was difficult for me to imagine not owning and driving my own vehicle wherever I lived. However, having mastered the intricacies of subway and bus and train schedules in several cities and countries, I now have a real understanding of how others live and get around in those areas. (Well, maybe saying that I "mastered" public transportation is taking it a bit far . . . since there was that time that I got on the right subway train in New York . . . but it was going in the wrong direction!)

4. Visiting other countries (and even other states!) gives us a FRESH perspective on different cultures.  

When I accompanied Robbie on a business trip several years ago, we visited a small  town in Italy and discovered that all the restaurants close after lunch and don't reopen until dinner time! This was quite an unfortunate predicament when we arrived at our hotel tired and hungry at 2:30 in the the afternoon. (Fortunately, the hotel chef whipped up a few sandwiches to tide us over and the manager had a complimentary fruit tray sent up to our room.) Earlier on that same trip, we spent a week in Moscow, Russia, where I entered a whole new world for me - one where English was not the predominant language. Luckily, our pastor here in Texas knew a pastor in Moscow and they arranged for one of the English-speaking Moscow church members to be our tour guide the day Robbie was not working.

5. Traveling develops real friendships!

In the digital always-connected world we live in, we often develop friendships with people we've never met in person. Over my eight years of blogging, I have come to know other bloggers from around the world. We read about each other's lives and leave comments and send emails and even exchange (often handmade) Christmas cards. But it's even more FUN when we finally get to meet in person. Over the years I've met up with Cheri (in Texas and Pennsylvania) and Karen (in New York) and Ginger (in Edmonton). And on our Europe trip a few months ago, I finally met four of my overseas blog friends (Ruth, Becky, Jacky & Missus Wookie) in person for lunch in London! We had a fabulous time - it was just like sitting down with old friends for a long overdue get-together.

I also got to meet-up with a group of ladies from The Sheerah Network Facebook group! A huge thank you goes out to Naomi Aidoo, coach & teacher for purpose-driven female Christian leaders & entrepreneurs, who specially coordinated this event with our travel schedule! (In fact, Zanny met up with Robbie and I earlier that day and we enjoyed lunch and several hours of sightseeing, which I'll share about in a future post.)

Yes, you see, traveling really does make it FRESH and real!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Three Wall Groupings

Do you have things hanging on your walls that you never really notice anymore? These may be things that you truly like or that have special meaning, but over time have simply begun to gather dust and go unnoticed.

As I began to clean out, organize, and give our office a FRESH look this week, I realized that it had been a while since I'd enjoyed or paid much attention to the items hanging in there. So, I took a long look at the things hanging on the walls . . . and the piles of thing that had been taken down from that room and others . . . and ended up creating three wall groupings that already give the room a FRESH feel.

Over the desk, I grouped items that have significance for the two of us.This group began with the clock (a gift from my sister years ago) and the shelf below holding items that are meaningful to us. I included our first (and only) professional portrait, a framed Marriage Blessing given to us by my parents as a wedding gift, a framed scripture given to us by my friend Rita when we moved into this home, a banner we received at the Marriage Encounter weekend we attended our first year of marriage, and a beautiful framed photo we received from friends who stayed with us for a week while they were in between homes many years ago.

The second grouping hangs over the file cabinets. Most of these items have been hanging here for years, but I tightened up the grouping (after giving everything a good dusting). My high school diploma and cum laude certificate and my two diplomas reside here with photos from each graduation, my tassels, Beta Gamma Sigma stole, and a handmade (by my sister Brenda) sign that reads, "The tassel is worth the hassle."

There's a short angled wall right inside the door that now holds a few items that are special to me. The gorgeous painting, the framed sky photo/scripture, and the plaque all represent my time volunteering, coordinating the annual fundraising banquet, and serving on the Board of Directors for the Christ For India missionary organization. The "No Greater Love" framed print was a gift from the ladies who allowed me to teach/lead my very first women's Bible study back in 2004. And the small cross piece was a gift from a student my last day of teaching at Stephen F. Austin State University. This grouping will probably be adjusted and/or added to as I'm sure there are a few more similar items in the boxes and piles that have accumulated in this room!

Joining in this week with Mary-Lou's Take Three Thursday - an effort to notice more of the ordinary in our lives. The idea is to take photos that are linked some how; by theme, by color, by date, by moment, by points of view. What have you noticed this week?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Bible Journaling Word Challenge

I've shared several times (most notably here and here) about the various places I find INSPIRATION for Bible journaling. Last year I joined in a few times with Marissa's Word A Day Challenge. (I shared my page based on the word image in a post here.)

I think this is a FUN way to test my Biblical knowledge and to study the scriptures. I enjoy finding scriptures that relate to the word for the day, then reading and illustrating those verses. Here's a look at three of my pages.

bloom - This word just begged for a flower (or lots of flowers), which perfectly illustrated Psalm 72:7.

revelation - I flipped through the book of Revelation and decided to trace the scroll from the Favorites One & Dones to illustrate Revelation 5:1-10.

Abraham - There are so many lessons we can learn from Abraham. I chose to create a reminder about his righteousness from Genesis 15:6.

What word would you use to challenge yourself (or someone else) to research and illustrate in the Word?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Slavery With a Twist

In my quest to read all the Fiction Pulitzer Prize winners, there have been several books about slavery. However, the two I recently completed each include a little twist that made it different from previous reads.


The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is last year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize. The twist in this novel is that there's an actual railroad underground that takes runaway slaves to depots run by station masters that are individuals helping and hiding slaves on their way north to freedom. The story follows Cora, who runs away from a plantation in Georgia with her friend Caesar.  At one point, they stop in South Carolina, where they are given jobs and apartments. However, Cora learns that the hospital wants to sterilize all blacks, so she retreats underground and takes a train to the next station. The story captures some of the other atrocities  (beatings, killings, etc) of the slave trade at that time as well.There's also a slave catcher named Ridgeway who shows up several times in pursuit of escaped slaves. Fortunately, Cora eventually ends up on a farm in Indiana with other runaways. When the farm is overrun by those wanting to capture and return the slaves, she escapes and joins a group of wagons going west. This is a well-written, engaging, and fairly quick read.

The Known World by Edward P. Jones is the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner. This story is set in the mid-1850s in a fictional county in the state of Virginia. The twist in this novel is that it is about a free black man, Henry Townsend, who owns slaves. The story begins on Henry's plantation, but there are many story lines that meander around throughout the book. There are references to events in the past and things that happen in the future. It was sometimes difficult to keep up with the numerous characters: August & Mildred Townsend (Henry's parents who worked to earn their own and Henry's freedom), Moses (the overseer on Henry's plantation), Fern (a free black lady who could pass herself off as white, but instead owns slaves and has a school for free black children), John Skiffington (the white sheriff who oversees the slave patrollers), William Robbins (the largest slave owner in the country), and many more! This book is very well-written, although as always it was tough to read about the treatment of slaves from their masters, in this case white and black masters.

Have you read either of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday Musings - Bright Morning Star

In Revelation 22:16, Jesus says, "I have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendent of David, the bright morning star."

I like to think about Jesus as the bright morning star, guiding me day by day, giving me FRESH insight as I dive into the Word in my quest to continually draw closer to Him and encourage others to serve Him in their everyday lives.

(I recently shared a step-by-step tutorial showing how I created this page with my newsletter subscribers. You can check out that tutorial HERE and/or sign up for my newsletter HERE.)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Five on Friday

A new weekly feature here on my blog sharing five FRESH random photos (or thoughts or interesting tidbits) from the week.

1. I'm excited to report that I have enjoyed a piece of FRESH fruit every day this year! Yes, I know that's only 12 days so far, but, honestly, it's probably more FRESH fruit than I had in all of last year. So, a great start to my goal of eating lots more FRESH food this year!

2. Today and tomorrow I'm teaching a FRESH Start Bible Journaling Class here at my home. Everything is all set, and I'm looking forward to diving into the Word and sharing about a FRESH start, new beginnings, setting goals, and walking in God's calling.

3. Early this week, I opened registration for my February Bible Journaling Class. Check out all the details HERE.

4. I have pulled a notebook and papers for my 2018 One Little Word album and am working through the January prompt in the One Little Word class. I'll be sharing more as I get the album setup.

5. Last weekend, we watched The Mountain Between Us on demand because we missed it when it was in theaters last year. The movie was OK - the storyline was great, but Kate Winslet and Idris Elba were not able to pull off the chemistry that was needed to make this a fantastic movie. However, Robbie discovered the movie is based on a book that is supposed to be really good. He ordered us a copy, so I'll let you know my thoughts on that in a future post.

Do you enjoy FRESH fruit daily? Are you taking (or teaching) any in-person classes of any type this year? Did you sign up for Ali Edward's One Little Word workshop? Have you see The Mountain Between Us? Or read the book?

Thursday, January 11, 2018