Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Italian Getaway (Part 1)

So here it is.  The long awaited pictures of my vacation to Italy.  You can read about how I purchased SUPER cheap plane tickets to Italy, here. 

Day 1:  Rome.  The Eternal City

After travelling for 22 hours, we were ready to get to our room.  Because we were taking a vacation on the "cheap" I had booked a room through a B&B website in Rome.  This place was incredible!! 

Our hostess was a young woman who loves antiques.  She had recently remodeled her apartment and it was perfectly decorated.  I loved looking at the built in bookcase filled with very old Italian books.

This is the view from the front door.  I fell in love with the stone arches in this place.  You would never guess that this flat was on the 5th floor of her building. 

This was the sitting room.  The stairs led to a half story where her bedroom and bathroom was.   Speaking of our hostess, I did not know until we came home that she is a pretty well know Italian actress and model.  Which then begs the question, "Why was she renting out rooms in her apartment???" 

This is the breakfast table in the corner of the sitting room.  So lovely!!!

And of course I would take a picture of the ceiling.  But seriously, look at those exposed beams!!!  Beautiful!!

We had to do the most touristy thing right off the bat...We had to visit the Colosseum.  Our room was less than a mile so we walked (downhill) to the sight.  Its hard to explain the feeling you get when you come up to something like this.  In this country, we don't have anything man made that has lasted 2000+ years.  Yes we have the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls, but those are made by God and His stuff is always spectacular.  (And I plan to show you AMAZING things that God created later in Cinque Terre)  But to view something, man made, that has withstood centuries of war, famine, prosperity, and development is truly awe inspiring.  Its the same feeling I had the first time I saw St.Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Notre Dame in Paris, or Westminster Abbey in London.  Lord knows I would be a mess if I ever went to Jerusalem or saw the pyramids in Egypt!

And here's proof we were there.   We didn't get to go inside the Colosseum that day.  We went inside later so I will show it to you later...

Here's another oldie, but goodie.  The Arch of Constantine.  Dedicated in 315 AD.  I love old stuff...really old stuff.

And of course the old Roman Forum.  (Tons of old stuff in here)  Its amaziing to me to think of all of the history that took place here.  Just to the left of the picture is where the whole "Et tu Brute" thing went down.  I was completely geeking out here!!!

We walked around city for a while that night.  Finally it was time for our first meal in Italy.  PIZZA!!!
Let me just get this out in the open... Eating in Italy is NOT for skinny people!  This is the carb capital of the world, people!! And I loved every minute of it!  Pizza, pasta, risotto, bread...yes, yes, yes, and YES!!  I'm sure you could visit Italy and still maintain your diet, but WHY?  Its like what they say, "When in Rome...Do as the Romans."  Which translated means, "Eat tons of carbs for dinner and always, ALWAYS follow it with gelato!"  I love this country!!!

Part 2 coming soon....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hello...Is this thing on?

Well Hello There!!  Long time, no posts from me, huh?! 

Ok Kelli, you can get off of my back now.   (just kidding, I love you bunches)

So I have let the whole blogging thing slip through the cracks.  What can I say? Life's been busy. 

But I will tell you that I had the most AMAZING trip to Italy this summer with the love of my life.  I will be blogging about that vacation this week and updating all of you on my life.  (if you still care to listen)

So until then,

Ciao, Bella!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Those of you who know me well, know I LOVE PASSOVER! 

Those of you who don't know me well, please allow me to explain...

I am not Jewish, nor am I pretending to be Jewish.  However, without going into a long theological discussion, I believe that as a follower of Jesus Christ, I have been adopted into God's family and I am able to celebrate Jewish feasts and festivals that magnify the Messiah.

About 5 years ago, my husband and I began to wonder if we were making too much fuss about Santa and the Easter Bunny and not focusing enough on the wonderful events of those holidays.  We finally came to the conclusion that Santa and the Easter Bunny can be a fun game that our family plays, but we wanted our family to really focus on the fact that #1 God became man (Christmas) and that #2 God, sacrificed Himself for all of mankind, and #3 God raised Himself from the dead. (Easter) 

Then I stumbled across a great DVD called, "The Miracle of the Passover."  In it, Zola Levitt, explains systematically how every article of the Passover Seder is a perfect picture of Messiah.  He is our Passover Lamb.  His blood is what covered our sins and gives us Life.  Just like the Matzah, He was pierced, He was without sin (no leaven), He was broken and hidden (Afikomen) and He was resurrected (finding the Afikomen).  While watching this DVD, I realized that the Last Supper was in fact the Passover dinner and that what we celebrate as Communion is actually the 3rd cup of the Passover, the Cup of Redemption.  And believe me the list goes on and on and on....

So the first year we observed Passover was very interesting.  We really had no clue what we were doing but we stumbled along.  But during our preparations God brought 2 Jewish people into our lives.  They were able to instruct us on preparing for Passover and we were able to share with them how we see Messiah pictured in the Seder.  By the second year we were beginning to get the hang of it and decided to invite more people to celebrate Passover with us.  And that year God brought a Ukranian, Orthodox Jewish woman to my door (while I was preparing for Passover) and I was able to talk with her about the Messiah.  As the years have gone by, we continue to observe Passover. We have celebrated with our familes and friends and continue to share with people why we observe Passover. 

This year our church has invited Rabbi Silverman from the local Messianic Congregation to lead us through the Passover Seder.  I can't express how excited I am to help organize this event.  We have enough seats for 328 people and so far our sign up is around 400!!  The next few days are going to be stressful as we try to figure out how to fit everyone into the auditorium.  I hope to post some more information about Passover in the next few days.  Hopefully you will want to try it with your family. 

God Bless!!


Monday, March 14, 2011

Hell in the Hallway...

A very good friend of mine says, "When the Lord closes one door, He will always open another.  But meanwhile it's Hell in the hallway." 

I don't think that saying is theologically accurate, but you get the point, right?  Many times we are waiting for direction...anything.   We spend our lives constantly making choices.  What to wear...what to eat...where to go...what to say...what NOT to say...  But what about the days when we have to make BIG choices like...should I take that job...should I buy that house...what should I invest my time in...  Usually we take choices like those to God.  We ask for His will and we seek His guidance.

And then the waiting comes. 

Sometimes the answer is quick, but more often its s.l.o.w.
At least it is for me.  Probably because I tend to rush into things and God needs to make me wait and really think things through.

So recently, (as in yesterday) God closed a door for me.  I had been in the "hallway" for about a month now trying to decipher which door God was going to have me go through next.  And honestly I was ok with either direction.  One door led to a job position at our church.  A position I would have loved to have and I would have done well.  But God felt otherwise.  The other door is slowly opening and I'm not sure what is behind it just yet. 

God has been calling my heart to become more involved in taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  Ideas are flying in my head.  Josh and I have been praying and seeking God's will in the matter.  What does it look like?  How will we do it?  Where will we do it?  What needs to happen first?

Thankfully we have a like mind in the matter.  That right there is a HUGE answer to prayer.  Since we are still in the early planning stages, I don't feel that I can share the details just yet.  But when the pieces of this giant puzzle do start coming together...you will be the first to know!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Boys from Uganda

I would like you to meet Daniel, Simon, and Isaac.  (left to right)  These sweet boys are our new friends from Uganda.  They stayed with us this past week and have truly been a blessing to our home.  They will be in the States until June while they travel with the Mwangaza Children's Choir.

We had a great time sharing our culture with these kiddos.  They were tasting rice krispie treats for the first time.  Needless to say it was a hit!  Who doesn't love rice krispie treats??

And it is offical...Nerf guns are loved by ALL boys.  Every night all of the boys were gather upstairs for their "Epic Nerf Battles"  followed by peels of laughter.  By the way, doesn't Simon just have a beautiful face?

Its amazing to me that these kids had just learned to ride a bike about 2 weeks before they were at our house.   They looked like they had been riding them for years!

And this was the 2nd time they had been swimming...EVER!!  Can you imagine?  Daniel was doing great!  Can't you just see him on the Ugandan Olympic swimming team someday?!

And sweet little Isaac.  This kid has a smile that can melt your heart.  He is always happy...especially when he's eating mangos!

My kids really loved having these boys staying with us.  They left today, but they will be back in 2 weeks for 3 more days.  We can't wait to see them again.

If you are interested in seeing their choir perform, you can check out there website Mwangaza Children's Choir.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Big Announcement....

Do you remember a couple weeks ago when I wrote an apology to all of my blog readers for being silent in the blog world?  If not, you can read about it here.  Basically I shared with all of you that Josh and I had a lot of things going on in our lives and that I wasn't able to share all of those things with you...until now.

Ok.  So I still can't share everything that was/is going on, but here's 1 biggie...

I'm taking my oldest son, Garrett, on a mission trip to India this fall.

He is so excited.  He has had such a heart for India since he was 4 years old.  (he's only 9 now)  Every year since preschool he has befriended the one Indian kid in his class and has shared the gospel with them.  When he was 5 years old he told me that he wanted to be a medical missionary to India.  I asked him why a "medical missionary" and not a regular missionary.  His answer..."Because I don't think you can try to "fix" them on the inside until you try to "fix" them on the outside."  Seriously...Whose kid is this???

I don't know if my son will grow up and actually become a medical missionary or not.  That's not the point.  The point is that I want my children to look beyond their own backyard.  I want them to know how blessed we are and understand that we are blessed not only to bless others, but to also glorify God's name to ALL the nations. 

I look at Garrett and realize that I have just 9 more years with him at home, then he's off to college and wherever.  I have 9 more years to instill in him a passion for people.  9 more years to show him how to have compassion for the lost.  9 more years to help him loosen his grip on someday achieving the "American Dream" and instead becoming a servant to others.  9 years.  And when I think about how quickly the first 9 years went by...

So here are the details of our trip.

Where:  Chennai, India

When:  November 7-19, 2011

Who:  Myself, Garrett, and a team from our church

Why:  To bless others and to make God's name know to the ends of the earth.

Cost: $5600

Garrett has been busy working on writing letters asking for support.  I don't know about you, but $5600 is a lot of money to me.   However, I do know that if this is what God wants us to do this fall, then the need will be met.  I'm not worrying about the money, I'm just excited to see where it comes from.

If you are interested in donating money towards our trip you can email me at  katie_boggs@hotmail.com and I can give you the contact information for our church.  All money is sent directly to our church and is tax deductible. 

Otherwise, please keep us in your prayers as we prepare for this journey. 


"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." ~Jim Elliott

Photo credits are here, here, and here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oh, the places you'll go!

Well it finally came.  A few weeks ago our lovely postman delivered what I had been longing for since I bought our tickets to Italy...my Moleskine journal.

I don't know how many of you have used one of Moleskine's travel journals, but I {heart} them.  I bought my first one the year we went to Paris.  It was great!  Just inside the front cover are city maps and a little map showing all of the Metro stops in the city.  And then there are blank pages upon blank pages for you to fill in all of your travel notes.  Things like...where you are staying...the sights you want to see...the places you want to eat...the stores you want to shop...the things you want to do....and how to get there.  And did I mention just how chic you look globe trotting with just this little black book?  No more bulky travel books with Rick Steve's picture pastered on the front to make you look and feel all the more like a tourist.  I love this thing.

You would think that I have already filled mine up with all the little gems of information that I have gathered during the last several months of literally pouring over travel books trying to figure out some sort of an itinerary.  Nope.  Nada.  Not one single word.  Here's why...

I can't.  Everytime I think that I'm ready to nail down the itinerary I hear this small voice telling me to wait.  (not a literal voice...that would be crazy.  but you get the idea, right?)  I have exhausted every possible itinerary for this trip.  Staying in Italy for the 2 weeks, going to Germany for a week, taking a cruise...  Suddenly the other day, I had this sense that God had given us these tickets to Italy for a much greater purpose than just vacationing.  Not that there is anything wrong with just taking a vacation to Italy, but I don't feel that is what God has in store for us.  I strongly believe that God has blessed us not only to bless others, but to also glorify His name to ALL the nations.   So why not do that during our time in Italy? 

I have contacted a couple of missionaries on the field in Italy to offer our services during our time in Italy.  Josh and I don't speak a lick of Italian, but we are ready and willing to assist them in reaching Italians with the gospel of Jesus Christ any way we can.   And honestly...I can't imagine any better way to see the country of Italy than that. 



Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Sincerest Apologies...

To my faithful blog readers:

I'm so very sorry for my absence these last few weeks.  To say that my life has been CRAZY is an understatement.  During the last few weeks, we have had some highs and some lows, but God has been faithful through them all.  I'm sorry to have left you in the dark for a while, but I have a hard time making small talk when other/bigger things are going on.  Please forgive me....

So I know you are curious and probably wanting to know what's been going on, but unfortunately I still can't publish everything.  I promise that over the next few months as things develop, I will keep all of you posted.  Please bear with me as I try making small talk, and I will update you when I can on the bigger things.

The best is yet to come...


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beth Moore's Hair Brush Story

In honor of the "28 Days of Love" I would like to share with you a clip of Beth Moore sharing her "Hair Brush" story.  A friend of mine posted this on facebook this morning and it was just what I needed.

I hope you enjoy it...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"28 Days of Love" Week 2

Ok. Ok.  I know.  I was supposed to post this on Sunday, but it didn't happen.  Sunday was just a lazy day around the house.  We went to church, had small group, ate lunch, and then we crashed on the couch.  And I could have posted this yesterday, but the kiddos were out of school, and we just had to go sledding.  You understand, right?!

So here we are...Tuesday...and I'm just getting this posted.  If you are reading this for the first time, please read my original post on the "28 Days of Love".  The pastor at my church has challenged us to learn what it truly means to love people the way Jesus does.  If you have been following along, please share with us the ways you have been able to love on others and what God is teaching you through the process of self-sacrificing love.

Here's your assignment for Week 2:

Day 8:  Meet Someone New.  Take the initiative to meet someone you don't already know...at church, in the neighborhood, at a store.  Push through awkwardness, introduce yourself and find out two or three things about them.  Write their name(s) down and pray for them later.

Day 9:  Cross a barrier.  Seek out someone who seems different from you in background, status, race, ethnicity, or religion, and engage them in conversation.   Seek to understand them better.  Listen more than talking.

Day 10:  Love your neighbor.  Call a neighbor, see how they are doing.

Day 11:  Offer to watch a friend's children.  Many people would feel loved if a trusted friend offered to watch their children for an evening so they could go out, run errands, decompress, or whatever their heart desired.  Try it!

Day 12:  Pray with someone.  Ask the Spirit of God to lay someone on your heart whom He knows needs your prayers.  Call them up or visit them, ask how you might pray for them, and do it...right then!

Day 13:  Love your church family.  If you haven't yet made your 2011 financial pledge to support God's work at your church, delay no longer!  Love through giving!

Day 14:  Bake it!  Make an extra meal or bake a batch of cookies and surprise someone with it.  Bless someone with food!  If you can't cook worth a darn, take someone out for a meal or coffee and offer to buy.

There you have it!  Now go out there and share God's love!!


Friday, January 14, 2011

(Refer to the Quote)

So like most people, I have a Father-in-Law who can be kinda quirky at times.  Like the year he wore felt antlers at Christmas, stuck a flashlight up his nose, and sang "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."  You get the idea. 

Anyways, Mike has given us a laundry list of quotes that range from, "Oh Golly!"  to "The older I get...the higher price I place on familiarity."  Huh??

Well lately, one of his more profound quotes has been bouncing around in my little brain.  It always seems to pop up whenever I start to become discontent or whenever I start to blame other people for my problems.  Here it goes....  Fasten your seat belts....

"If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always got."

Brilliant!!  This lil' nugget covers a multitude of problems!  Do you have problems with your finances?  (Refer to the quote)  Do you have problems with your kids?  (Refer to the quote)  Do you have problems with your relationships with other people?  (Refer to the quote)  Do you have problems at work?  (Refer to the quote)  Do you have health problems, but can't seem to find the time to get off of the couch?  (Refer to the quote)  Are you discontent with your life?  (Refer to the quote)  Are you getting the picture yet?

Here's what this simply boils down to... We have to Take Responsibility!!!

Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying.  I understand that sometimes, things happen to us that are completely out of our control.  But the way we react to those situations are completely up to us. 

Seriously people, I'm thinking about making this my motto for 2011.  Maybe I'll get it tattooed across my forehead.  That way I can remind myself every time I look in the mirror.  Or when people around me start to complain, I can just smile and point to the forehead.

Like I said before, this quote has been bouncing all around my head lately.  Meanwhile it has been Week 1 of "28 Days of Love".  Here's how the two relate to each other.  The Lord is showing me this week not only how to see people through His eyes, but He's also showing me what true love is all about.  People are hard to love sometimes.  Obviously its easier to love people who are lovable.  Often we confuse love with enabling...they're so not the same thing!

But that's not the person I believe God wants me to be.  I believe He wants me to be the kind of spouse that lovingly supports my husband even when its not convenient or easy for me.  He wants me to be the kind of parent that not only showers my children with hugs and kisses, but can also lovingly teach them how to submit to God's authority in their lives.  He wants me to be the kind of friend that I need to be, not the kind of friend that person wants me to be.  Jesus is the perfect balance of Grace & Truth.  I am not.  My good friend, Tonya, pointed out to me this week that God's love is so unlike anything else, that we really have nothing else to compare it to.  The only way to find out what true love is, is to find out more about God.

So here's the deal.  If I want to stay the kind of person I have been, then I will continue to do what I've always done.  But if I want to look more like Jesus, than I have to take responsibility and change.

(Katie steps off of soapbox and exits stage left)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Take a look at my Mantel

If you have peeked at my blog before, you know that I love family heirlooms and antiques.  I blogged about how I decorated my Christmas tree with old family letters and photos, here.  Also, I recently share with you pictures of my 170 year old church pews and the pre-Civil war mirror in my entry way, here.

Well today I am linking up with linking up with The Stories of A2Z's Winter Mantel Party. 

This is what my mantel looks like right now.  I really like the pieces that I have on the mantel, but one of the things on my "To Do" list this year is to paint the brick and install a new mantel.  So let's just ignore the things I don't like about my mantel right now and let's focus on the things I do love about it....

If you feel like you are experiencing deja vu with that bird cage, you're right!  I have the same cage and same bird in my kitchen on top of my cabinets.  Hey!  When you find a good thing, more is better, right?!  Anyways, I have many pieces of family history in my house and I love displaying them.  The framed letter behind the bird cage is one of my great-great-great-grandfather's discharge paper from the Civil War.

Next I have a generic response card from the White House thanking Americans for supporting Richard Nixon after the Watergate situation.  I find this one very ironic.  I actually have a copy of the original letter that my great-grandfather wrote to Nixon voicing his support of him at the time. 

The large, framed document is the original land grant deed given to my family in 1833.  It is signed by Andrew Jackson, but unfortunately someone has removed the Presidential seal from the lower left hand corner.  The deer antler is from our backyard.  My oldest son, Garrett, and I found it last spring while playing catch.  I love mixing natural items in with old stuff.  By the way, after we found the antler, an one antlered deer kept showing up in our backyard.  It was pretty funny.

This letter on the right is really cool.  It was written in 1884 by a minister in Chautauqua, New York to my great-great-great-grandfather. (different than the one with Civil War discharge paper)  My grandfather was not a Christian and had been struggling with his health.  I appreciate the way this minister loving challenged my grandfather to give his life to the Lord.  Here's what it says:

"My dear Mr. Smith,
    It is a week this afternoon since I saw you.  I take comfort in the thought that you are probably about recovered today.  I confess to you it is a hard thing for a pastor to speak to a man who is very, very sick about his soul, lest in so doing some harm be done in exciting useless fears.  But no such danger is in the way now that you are so nearly yourself again.  I suggest my friend that now is a most proper time for you to give your heart to God as a Thankoffering.  'It is a good thing to give Thanks.' Ask yourself the question, 'What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward "me"'.  Now is the time.  Will you make that offering now?"

He makes a compelling argument.  I think about that letter often as it challenges me to share Christ with others because we do not know when it will be our last opportunity to do so. 

Finally, these guys are not technically on the mantel, but I still love them.  I bought them a few years ago for under $5 each.  They're not old, but they look like they are.

Thanks for visiting my mantel.  I hope you enjoyed it!


Monday, January 10, 2011

My Favorite Pencils

Two weekends ago my family made a run to Ikea.  And by "run" I mean we drove 2 hours to the nearest Ikea store. 

We didn't have much that we needed to buy.  We just enjoy going about twice a year and seeing what's new in the store.

This trip we bought a couple lamps for the basement.  A side table and some throw pillows as well.  But my favorite thing we bought were these colored pencils for the boys.

They are absolutely GREAT!  They are thicker than the Crayola pencils and they look so cool and natural. 

I'm thinking I may have to make another Ikea "run" very soon and get some of these guys for myself.  Ooo!...and that giant blank and white photo of Paris.  It would look PERFECT above the couch in the basement.  Ooo!...and another side table.  (I have no clue why we didn't just get 2 when we were there the last time)  Ooo!...and I want 2 of those new gray/white rugs that they sell for just $19.99 for the upcoming dining room makeover.   And my husband wonders why I can't just go to the store and buy colored pencils...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

28 days of Love- Linky party!!

The holidays are over.  The Christmas decorations are down. (or as least should be down by now)   The New Year has come and gone.   New Year's Resolutions have been made.  (and for some, already broken.)   

What were those resolutions?  To lose weight?  To give more to the needy?  To save more in our spending?  To get out of debt?  Maybe we promised to spend more time with our families or finally take that dream vacation.  But what about love?

There are many prayers that are hard to pray.  You know what they are.  We know we need patience but we have all dreaded asking God to give it to us because we know He will give us the opportunity to grow in patience by placing us in very stressful situations.  We know we struggle with pride and we ask God for humility, but we would like for Him to do it privately and not where anyone can see us being humbled.  But what about love?

Today at church my pastor preached on I Corthinthians 13, "the love chapter."  We have all heard it at weddings at some point in our lives, but have we ever stopped to think about what TRUE LOVE really is? 

The love chapter gives us a list of what love looks like:
 It says, "Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Loves does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails..."

But the question still begs to be answered...What is love?

I John 3:16 says, "This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 

How do we get to that place?  The place where we are willing to lay down our life for someone else.  We would all love to think that we would be so self-sacrificing, but in the day to day we seldom feel that way.  Thankfully according to I John 4:19 we are able to truly love because He first truly loved us.

Therefore I would like to ask you to join me in "28 days of Love".  For 4 weeks we will learn what it is like to truly love people.  My pastor has challenged us to show love in the following ways for the next 7 days:

Week 1

Day 1:  Meet a Need.  Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to someone's need you can meet today.  When the need presents itself, act.  Meet the need without expecting anything in return.  Thank the Lord for using you to bless someone else.

Day 2:  Don't react.  When wronged, offended, or slighted today, resolve by the Spirit's power to allow Him to produce a "longsuffering" spirit in you that doesn't react or strike back.  Let it go.  Overcome evil with good.

Day 3:  Give something away.  Loving always involves giving.  Bless someone by giving them something of value-some money, an item, some time, your attention (just don't give them a piece of your mind)  "Its is more blessed to give than to receive."

Day 4:  Pray for an enemy.  Instead of stirring up your anger by replaying that person's wrong against you, pray for him or her.  Ask God for the grace to love your enemies by praying His blessings upon them.

Day 5:  Write a note.  Let someone know how much you value their friendship or appreciate their contribution by writing, texting, or emailing a note.  Make the effort to communicate what is in your heart.  Take some time and write more than a sentence or two.

Day 6:  Spread some joy today.  Do a random act of kindness for an unsuspecting person.

Day 7:  Initiate something.  Take a small risk.  Go out of your way to talk with someone you don't really know.  Engage them in a conversation about something that interests them.  Show genuine interest, learn what you can about them, and review it later in your mind.

For the next 3 weeks I will add our new "assignments" as Pastor Steve gives them to us. 

Until then here's what I want you to do...obviously stick to the list.  Also, I would like for you to link up with me in my FIRST-ever linky party and share with all of us your Random Acts of Love.  We are doing something similar at our church where we can post up notes of the ways we have been blessed or how we have been able to bless others during these 28 days. 

Let's Pass on God's Love!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Are we there yet???

Nope.  Not even close...

Our house has been a money pit.  I mean that in the nicest way possible.  And please don't get me wrong, I love my house.  I didn't use to. 

Our house was built in 1973. ( Back when they actually knew how to build a house.)  And throughout the years several different families have lived in this house and all the while never, I mean NEVER updating this house. 

We bought the house almost 6 years ago and since then we have done almost everything ourselves.  We have knocked out walls.  Put in slate and wood floors.  Revamped the landscaping in the front.  Finished the basement.  Renovated the kitchen.  Redone the bathrooms.  The list goes on and on and on...

With exception of replacing the carpet in the last 2 bedrooms, we have remodeled EVERY room in this house.  And this is the point where I'm supposed to relax, right?  Well my problem is that I have a hard time with the finishing details in decorating a room.  I've said before that I have no problem picking out paint colors or flooring, but when it comes to the details....I go crazy.

So that is my goal for this year.  The big projects are over.  Now its time for the details.  And I'm beginning 2 areas that have a similar furniture in them.  My entryway and my bedroom.  Strange, huh?!

You see, about 3 years ago my husband and I went to a flea market and found a man selling church pews.  They were very pretty and old (which is what I loved most about them) and I thought they would be the perfect thing to go in our entryway.  We had just put in the slate floors and had taken out a big boxy guest closet that took up most of the space in the entryway.  The guy wanted $250 for the 4' long pew and I thought at the time that was a pretty decent price, however, he had sold all that he had at the flea market. 

After the flea market, I was lamenting to my mom about the pews and how I really wanted one.  She mentioned to me that my grandparent's church had just sold their building to the local KFC (depressing, I know) and that they were selling all of the furniture, stain glass windows, and leaded glass doors since KFC was planning to tear the building down.  I immediately called my grandma and scheduled a time to meet with their pastor and to check out the pews. 

Let me pause for a second and just answer what you are probably already wondering... I did not get any of the windows or doors from the building.  They had HUGE, 10' tall windows of Biblical scenes and 10 or 12 matching smaller windows throughout the building that they sold to an antique dealer for $100/each.  (Its like a punch in the gut, huh??) 

Anyways, when we got there, they were still selling some of the church pews.  And these suckers were GINORMOUS!  Each of them were 18 feet long, divided in half by a support piece.  They are made out of solid red oak and are approximately 170 years old.  I was in heaven...almost.  The pastor told us that he would sell them for $75 for the whole 18' pew or $50 for a 9'section, and that he would give us the end pieces instead of having the middle support on one end. 

Well the wheels started turning in Josh's mind.  He decided that we should buy (1) 18' section and (1) 9' section.  The 9' section we cut in half to make (2) 4.5' benches.  (The pastor had given us an extra set of end caps.)  We put one bench in our entryway and gave the other bench to my mom.  Then Josh took the other (2) 9' sections and made a bed for us.  (I'm telling you the man is talented.)

He took the seat out of one pew, shortened the length, raised it up, and that became our headboard.  Then he took the second pew and shortened the length of it to make the foot board. 

And I love they way they turned out.  They are not attached to the frame so I can just move them when I need to make the bed or flip the mattress.

But here's my dilemma.  I feel like the rest of the bedroom and the entry way are kinda blah.   I like the paint color in my bedroom but I am willing to change it.  I like the curtains, but I don't like the bamboo roman shades.  (I really hate how the shades look from the front of the house) 

I need something on the walls and I need better lamps.  And it drives me BANANAS that the window isn't centered in the room.  Therefore the bed isn't centered in the room. 

And lets revisit the entryway again. 

My husband made the vinyl silhouettes of our family a couple years ago.  I love them.  They are one of my favorite things in our house.  And the mirror was given to me by my grandparents when we were first married.  Its very old. (pre-Civil war)  I think I want to move the mirror, but I'm not sure what to replace it with just yet.  I still like having the bench in the entryway.  It makes the perfect "time out" bench.  

Soon I will show you what Josh did when we took out our coat closet.  (It involves an old kitchen pantry and wainscoting...very cool) 

But until then, I would love any ideas or suggestions on these two areas.   Thanks a bunch!!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Some of the Things I Love

Some of the Things I Love:

The sound of my children playing together, nicely.

The sound of a pure belly laugh.

A pot of hot tea and lemon cookies.

Reading something in Scripture that I didn't know was there and it just knocking my socks off.

Watching my husband spend time with his boys.

The excitement my kids have while picking out what movie to watch on "Friday Family Movie Night".

Waking up on Saturday morning to a bed full of kids in flannel jammies watching cartoons.

The sound of my children singing along to praise & worship music.

The hugs my boys give me when they come home from school.

Their excitement for snow and sledding when all I can think about is the cold.

Making a fire in the fireplace and preparing Hot Cocoa for them to warm up when they are done sledding.

Getting dressed up and going on a "hot date" with my man.


Playing "Who Saw Daddy First" with the boys while waiting for Josh to come home from work.

Watching my children sleep and know that they are truly at peace.

Being married to the love of my life and knowing that means...forever.

Not only teaching my children about God, but also knowing that they know Him.

Hearing the excitement in their voices as they tell me about sharing Jesus with one of their friends.

My house.  Its not the biggest or the prettiest, but its what God has given us, so its perfect for us.

Forever Friends.  The type of people you will have in your life no matter the distance.

The smell of Spring.
Laying in the hammock on a summer night looking at the stars and thinking about the awesomeness of God.

Seeing my husband and my children smile.


Roller coasters.

Fuzzy Socks.

and Old movies.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

$59 tickets to Europe.

I love Europe

There I said it. 

Period.  End of story.
(not really)

I am that dorky tourist leaning on the Eiffel Tower.  And I completely
plan on taking a picture of me "holding up" the Tower of Pisa.

My first experience in Europe was in 1997 when I was on a summer missions trip to Russia.  Although that was a great, life changing trip, it left something to be desired.  A lot to be desired.

In 2009, my husband and I went to Paris for our 10th wedding anniversary.  It was BEAUTIFUL.  Yes the Metro was dirty.  (and smelled like pee in places)  Yes. It was crowded.  Yes.  It was expensive considering the devaluing Dollar.  But it was Paris.

I remember the morning we arrived.  We took the train into the city, checked into our hotel, and immediately jumped on the Metro to Isle de la Cite.  We came up out of the Metro and I stood there looking at Notre Dame thinking,  "I can't believe I'm really here!"  All the months of planning and saving came down to that very moment.  And I was in love.

This weekend I mentioned that my husband and I are planning a trip to Europe this summer.  Woo-Hoo!  Before our trip to Paris, I began planning our 2nd trip to Europe
I'm sick.  I know. 

Here's why:

During the winter of '08-'09 I began planning our trip to Paris.  I knew where we wanted to go and I knew the approximate dates. (mid-late June)  It all came down airfare.  And anyone who has travelled to Europe knows that airfare is the biggest cost of your trip.  I finally decided that Delta had the best rates at the time so I opened up a Visa/Skymiles account through US Bank.  They were running a promotional 25,000 skymiles award with a new account. 

I DO NOT LIKE CREDIT CARDS.  I don't believe paying for your vacation on credit is really taking a vacation.  I like to pay CASH for vacations.  When I opened the Visa accounts, I had cash in the bank for the vacation.  I paid for my airfare with the Visa and IMMEDIATELY paid it off. 

So back to the story...  At that time we had a total of 25,000 skymiles.  But within a month of having the Visa I received a letter from US Bank stating that they were no longer partnering with Delta and that if I wanted a Delta Skymiles Credit Card, I would have to sign up for an American Express card.  Great.  So I cancelled the Visa and checked into the American Express card.  They were running a similar promotion of 25,000 skymiles for new accounts.  So this time I opened two.  One for me.  One for the husband.  By now we had a total of 75,000 miles. 

By now it was getting close to our trip to Paris.  We were reserving our hotel rooms with the card and earning double miles.  We purchased train tickets to Loire Valley and to London with the card, meanwhile paying it off every month.  During this time, Delta ran another promotion.  If you were travelling to Paris through Minneapolis/St.Paul airport, you could earn an extra 2000 miles each way.  Hello!  We each earned just under 10,000 miles with the trip itself, plus the extra 4,000 a piece.  By the time we came back from Paris we had over 100,000 skymiles!  Add onto that total the amount that we had earned from making all of our reservations, we almost had enough skymiles for 2 "low" rate tickets to Europe.  I paid $75 to transfer miles from my skymiles account to my husbands, which Delta doubled giving us a total of 122,000 miles.

Its important to note that once we reached our goal, we have cancelled the credit cards.  We still have our skymiles accounts, but are paying for our new trip with cash. 

Like I said before, getting to Europe is not cheap.  However, once you are there how much you spend is really up to you.  You can stay at 4-5 star hotels, eat at swanky restaurants and easily spend $10,000 in a week.  Or you can stay at hostels, eat from street vendors and spend significantly less.  I'm not rich enough to stay at the Ritz and I'm too scared to stay at a hostel, so I guess that puts me somewhere in the middle. 

Now comes the fun part...I knew that if I could just get to Europe for under 122,000 skymiles, I could get practically anywhere I wanted to go for pretty cheap.  And keep in mind that airfare for under 122,000 skymiles during the summer months is nearly impossible.  After checking out the fares to the most popular cities, (Paris, London, Rome) I began looking at smaller cities (Zurich, Berlin, Brussels).  Finally I found it!  "Low" rate tickets from Ohio to Brussels, Belgium for 60,000/pp/round trip +$59 tax, in June!  I can get anywhere from Brussels.  Hop on the Eurostar to London or Paris.  Take a cruise to Scandinavia.  Drive to Germany.  Or just fly to another destination. 

And we have chosen to fly to Italy.  We are not leaving the airport in Brussels.  We are getting on a 2 hour flight to Rome.  I just checked on Orbitz while writing this and they offer roundtrip airfare from Brussels (BRU) to Rome(FCO) for $8!  Granted, you have to pay $66 in taxes for a total of $74, but that is much cheaper and much faster than going by train.  So far my total out of pocket costs for this trip is $341.  Woo-Hoo! 

Here's where I need your help.  Our vacation is 2 weeks long.  We have already decided that we want to spend the first week in Italy (Rome, Amalfi Coast, Florence/Pisa and possibly Venice).  We have to decide what to do for the 2nd week.  Here are the options we are considering:

1) Stay in Italy.  I'm sure there is plenty to do...

2)  Take a cruise to Greece and Turkey.  Expensive, but we don't have to worry about getting to each destination.

3)  Go back to France.  Maybe see the French Riviera and make our way back to Paris before heading back to Brussels. 

4) From Rome just start heading north through Italy into Austria and through Germany on our way to Brussels.

Decisions, Decisions....

Please help me decide!!!

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