Pigeon Forge, TN (and our last 13th birthday trip!)

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Five years flew by in a little more than a heartbeat and we now have three teenagers in our home. My youngest son Nate turned 13 this year, which meant it was time for our family’s last “teen birthday trip.”

Sean and I have taken each of our boys on a special trip with just the three of us for their 13th birthdays. We visited San Francisco with our oldest son, Sam, and visited Denver with our middle son, Ben.

This time our destination was Pigeon Forge, TN and it did not disappoint. We found a great cabin to rent in Sevierville (complete with video game tables, air hockey, and a hot tub) and Nate declared it the best rental house ever.

We very much enjoyed exploring the area and thanks to your awesome suggestions via my newsletter request, we found a few unexpected things to do too. Hillbilly Golf in Gatlinburg was such a big win, we’d have gone back for another round if we’d had the time.

We stopped at the Tennessee visitor center as we crossed the state line and Nate picked up a bunch of brochures there for activities that caught his eye.

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Peacemakers Needed

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Peacemakers Needed

Peacemakers Needed

It sounded like they (gosh, who even were “they”??) were charging down the hallway right outside my door.

What was happening?!

Were we under attack??

Months ago my family and I traveled to Israel with religious leaders from my church. That night my heart began to pound in my ears and I held my breath as I slowly turned in the blackened room to see if the girls in the bed next to mine were awake with the fear I was experiencing.

I Felt Ok?

Mouths hanging slightly open and covers tucked up under their chins, my two daughters were sound asleep while our hotel in Israel was clearly under attack.

Or so it sounded.

Cade and I had to be separated each night for two weeks as we traveled around Jordan, Israel and the borders of neighboring countries.

No hotel had a room big enough for 5, so boys slept in one room and girls in the other.

I felt responsible.



And ok?

I wouldn’t say I felt peace, but I did feel calm as the noise rose and fell for a few hours.

I didn’t dare step out of our room to peer down the hallways at Cade’s room. What if they were out there and three girls, alone but together would become an obvious target.

My texts wouldn’t go through to Cade and then a loud explosion ripped through the air and I glued my eyes to the ceiling while I silently prayed.

Standing Guard

The next morning our entire tour group began to share stories.

Unanswered phone calls to the front desk where workers had abandoned guests, all of whom were from another country and didn’t speak the language or know how to seek help.

Cade had a front row seat to all of it.

Slipping a camera carefully between the curtains to capture images and video here and there.

He waited up all night. Ready, listening, and standing guard at windows and hallways to watch over those, including his family who hid away in their rooms.

Little did I know, this was a fight on the road outside. A barricade and late night surprise attack that ended in an explosion, gun fight and armored vehicles.

One Fearful Night

I’ll never know if anyone was lost that night, but I hurt knowing that my one fearful night pales in comparison to what they are enduring now.

That night another man, a leader in our church also walked the halls, watched, prayed and stood ready to protect those in his care.

I do not understand the things happening in the world, but I understand this:

In the midst of danger there were men I could trust, listen to and who stood between me and them. Looking to truth, and those who lead with it may not have kept the danger from ever happening, but it does give you a source to look to for guidance, peace and yes, even protection.

Peacemakers Needed

Never in the history of the world have we needed those who are able to stand upon watchtowers and walk through abandoned halls more.

My heart has been absolutely destroyed to watch a place I just wandered, discovered, and loved be turned to war. It’s not right. It’s not fair, but it is not “them”, it is all of us. We need

Watermelon Dog Treat Popsicles

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Watermelon dog treats are the ultimate dog popsicles – and best of all it only takes a minute to make them. They’re a great way to use up leftover watermelon too!

Happy 4th Gotcha Day, Oscar. We love you and we’re celebrating with your favorite Watermelon Dog Treats today.

Watermelon Popsicles for Dogs

It’s hard to believe that our sweet Oscar has been with us for four years now! It’s hard to imagine our lives without him.

After saying for so many years that I wasn’t a dog person, I’ve had to eat those words. He has very much become a member of our family and I love him dearly.

So many of you have shared in our excitement over the past few years, as we’ve become first-time dog owners.

You messaged me countless tips and endless advice and I’ve loved it all. So, I wanted to share our pup’s favorite treats with you.

Frozen Watermelon Dog Treats

Dog Popsicles

Several people sent me recipes for their favorite homemade dog treats when Oscar first arrived. The most popular treats by far were these watermelon dog treats – made simply by blending fruit with a bit of yogurt to make dog popsicles.

This combination has become Oscar’s favorite treat too. It cracks me up when he hovers near the freezer and peeks inside to see where the treats are.

Watermelon + Yogurt in the blender makes an awesome frozen treat!Read more

Points of Intersection

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Points of Intersection

I slowly peeled the sticky note off the windshield as I read, my heart thumping faster and heavier with each word.

I quickly shoved it in my pocket as I glanced to see if my mom had noticed.

She hadn’t.

We were utterly exhausted and wanting to somehow leave the worry there at the hospital and symbolically drive into new hope and faith as we exited the hospital parking garage. We needed to gather up a little energy to give a little more to Dad over the next week.

They Didn’t Know

It was 7 pm and we’d been at the hospital since right before 7am.

The person didn’t know we’d only found out just a couple days before that the surgeon had found an almost totally blocked carotid artery and set surgery for right away.

They didn’t know we were inside fasting and praying as what had been said would be a shorter surgery turned into many hours and finally into all day of waiting.

They didn’t sit with us when the surgeon finally came out, wringing his hands with a serious face as he said, “it was much worse than I had expected.”

They didn’t know we’d just faced the reality that at any time one wrong step off of a curb could have taken a husband, father and grandfather.

They didn’t know we were relieved to have witnessed a miracle of discovery and removal but that we were still carrying the day upon us.

They did see that the left side of the car had too much space between the lines and the right side was sitting too close to the yellow line.

And that was enough.

Points of Intersection

We are all but lines on a world map and eventually we will come to what is known in math as “the point of intersection.”

What can be a total annoyance to one maybe someone else’s mere effort of survival.

Lines crossing lines without seeing where they are coming from.

I didn’t know this sticky note had followed us in the move but today I lifted a book and there it was.

A sticky reminder that I just want to act in a way that oth

Getting to Know Us

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Getting to Know Us

I do have a real name.
And a real family who also have names.
I just sometimes forget that we need to introduce ourselves.
It only takes a few people saying, “hey, oh sweet basil!” When we are out and about to remind me🤣
So hiiiiii! We love love love meeting you and what better chance than right here, right now!

Cade is from all over but we claim #SouthCarolina since that was the last place he lived. He works as an administrator in #healthcare and loves the #gym#sushi and #traveling with all of us.

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