The Time Is Now

Jules and I have been trying to plan a girls getaway with our Mom for years! We have never been away together, just the three of us, so this summer we finally did it!  Better late than never!  It was everything we hoped it would be, full of shopping, good food, fun and laughs.

It wasn’t easy to get away, with trying to coordinate schedules, childcare, a dog sitter and spending time researching the perfect destination, but it was worth it to see this smile on my Mom’s face!

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That strange man behind us is not a creeper, he is our brother who joined us on one night to celebrate my Mom’s birthday!  We decided on Mackinac Island as our destination.  As “Michiganders”, we have been there many times, but it never gets old and I always seem to see or learn something new each time I go, not to mention the scenery is stunning and the homemade fudge sold all over the island is worth every decadent calorie!

This post is a little photo heavy, but for those readers who have never been to Mackinac Island, I wanted to give you a glimpse of what a neat place it is!

The Mackinac Bridge connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas

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The Grand Hotel

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Arch Rock

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There is a beautiful butterfly garden on the island.

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A little selfie fun on the boat ride to Mackinac Island!

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So blessed!

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I saw a saying recently on-line that said if you are waiting to find the “perfect” time to do something, it will never happen.  There will always be barriers to finding the “perfect” time or a reason why something won’t work.  We waited a lot of years to go on this trip with our Mom and I wish we would have done it long ago.  It was such a special, memorable time and I can’t wait for our next outing!

So if you have been thinking about doing something special with someone you love, whether it be just a girls weekend, a getaway with your Mister or a family vacation, NOW is the time.  We would love to hear about your adventures in the comments below.

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Lessons I Learned On Vacation Part 2: People Are People

Lessons I Learned From Vacation Part 2: People Are People

I want to apologize for another posting lapse.  We really aren’t forgetting about this blog and you our readers, it seems life has just taken over these past few weeks.  I recently returned to full-time work and am adjusting to this change of schedule.  Thank you for your patience with us!

On our trip to Europe this year, we had the opportunity to visit a few different countries and we learned many new things about the culture in each place.  For a girl who doesn’t like change or the unknown, this was quite a challenge for me.  From navigating our way through winding roads and tiny German villages to riding the metro or trains in Paris and Venice, it kept us constantly challenged in just figuring things out.

In each country we made an attempt to speak the language and honor the customs of the area.  At one point though after visiting a few countries back to back, I struggled with what I was even saying in attempting a hello at the bakery one morning-bonjour, hallo, ciao?  Sometimes I just reverted to a good old nod and smile which is a universal language!

Which leads me to the Lesson # 2 of our vacation.  As we traveled and experienced so many new sights, sounds and tastes,  I sometimes found myself just overwhelmed with the language barrier and the extreme foreignness of our surroundings.  It was during these moments that I took a breath, looked around and realized it wasn’t all that different from what I know.  People are people no matter what the language, food or customs.  They are all beloved sons and daughters of our Creator and that was very familiar to me.  I saw people smiling and frowning, annoyed and joyous in every country.  Some looked like they had the weight of the world on their shoulders, some like they didn’t have a care in the world.  I heard kids whining to their parents in French, Italian, German and English!  So when I felt overwhelmed I reminded myself of these things and found comfort  and familiarity in the “normal people behaviors” I saw all around me.  It is wonderful that God created us all so uniquely, but yet with many commonalities.

When we find ourselves judging other cultures or ways different from ours, it is good to step back and remember that we are not all that different.  Most people love and want to be loved, feel sad, happy and a myriad of other emotions.  They love their families, friends, children and most love gelato!  I know we do!  It is finding this common ground that we begin to build bridges of respect and understanding of each other ,which leads to peace and harmony.

Here are a few photos of people being people from our  vacation!

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Who doesn’t enjoy a beautiful sunny day in a garden. (Luxembourg Gardens, Paris)

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This group of fine Frenchman freed us from a broken parking garage!

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Do you think this woman finds joy in handing out chocolate samples from the giant chocolate fountain behind her?


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This is the Mister and me-who can resist a cut-out board!

IMG_2002A stranger helping my daughter with the last step of a steep climb on Mount Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain peak.

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Here is the view of the top of this mountain-hands down the most beautiful place I have ever seen!

Blessings,

Jen

Lessons From Vacation Part 1-Enjoying the Detour

You may have noticed the blog posts have been few and far between this summer.  Jules has been down for the count with pneumonia and I have been out of the country for five weeks!  I am home now and Jules has thankfully made a full recovery so hopefully we will be posting more regularly.  The girls and I had the opportunity to travel with my husband to Germany this summer.  We have had so many amazing adventures and created so many special family memories.  I won’t share all 1,200 of my vacation photos with you 🙂 , but I will show you a few of my favorites.  I have been in awe and amazement over and over on this trip with the absolute beauty in this world!
I titled this post “Lessons From Vacation” because on this extended stay out of the country,  I learned some things about myself, my family and people in general that I wanted to share with you.  I have been inspired to live my life a little differently and I hope this series of posts inspires you too.

This trip was different from any I have ever taken.  The Mister was responsible for most of the arrangements and it was very last minute.  I did not have months and months to plan and overthink things.  We basically packed up and left for five weeks without many set plans of what we were going to do.

My first stop when we got here was the local library to check-out some travel books.  We had an idea of the places we wanted to go, so I spent some time a couple of days before we left for the trip and researched the area and made a tentative list of things we might want to see and do. Normally, when we travel, I have planned it out weeks in advance and we have a tight schedule of all the things we want to do and see.  We did hit many of the “hot tourist spots” and I really enjoyed them, but I found some of my most memorable and happy moments of the trip were during the unexpected “detours” or last minute plans.

Below is a picture of the girls during one of our spontaneous stops on our way to another bigger destination.  We found this parking area near the Black Forest and we got out to explore.  We had so much fun running around the forest looking for the “Big Bad Wolf” and taking silly pictures.

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Here is another unplanned outing.  We intended to go an Alpine slide area that afternoon and it was closed because of rain.  We saw this Palace (King Ludwig’s Linderhof Palace) on our way back and decided to stop and check it out.  It was a fabulously beautiful discovery as you can see.  We made it in time for the last tour of the day and there were no crowds because of the late hour and rain.  We had so much fun running around the garden area taking pictures and just having fun!  We didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits.

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(King Ludwig had this grotto built behind the castle, it is a man-made cave hidden at the back of the estate.)

We had visited a lot of castles and climbed a lot of stairs and the girls decided they needed a break so at the last minute we decided to tour this chocolate factory in Cologne, Germany.  We had a blast trying samples from the giant chocolate fountain and learning the history of chocolate and how it is made.

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These are just a few examples of the “detours” we took on this vacation.  Had we been so intent on following a schedule or being a stickler for “the plan”, we would have missed out on these fun, family times.  In fact, I think our family was the happiest and most content during these detours because there were no pre-existing expectations.  We just jumped in and had fun!

I am a planner, organizer and list maker and living this way was so freeing! I definitely want to take this experience from vacation and apply it to my daily life.  It is okay to have plans, but when they don’t work out or there is an opportunity for a detour, I want to embrace it, instead of feeling stressed or disappointed. Who knows what fun could be around the corner.  I want to be more open to the plans God has for my life, which may be very different than my plan.  

How about you?  Are you a planner or do you just see where the road takes you?  I would love to hear how you spend your vacations!

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer!


~Blessings,
Jen