Friday, May 12, 2017

Breathtaking Rome

Traveling through Europe over the past three years has been an amazing experience.  My family and I experienced new cultures, tasted new foods, and learned new languages. Our adventures will be forever treasured and our memories forever cherished.   (John 1:3 "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.")

Our first major trip was to Rome, Italy.  It was absolutely breathtaking!   This iconic city's astounding architecture and history caught us off guard every turn we took.  From the elaborate churches to the historical ruins, we loved every minute of it.
With a single step out of our hotel door, our senses were awaken.  Fresh waffle cones baking in the neighboring gelato shops, church bells ringing a melodic tune, and weathered cobblestone paths darting in between buildings.  It was like stepping back in time (minus the men selling selfie sticks).

The first cobblestone path we took led us to the ancient Pantheon.  The Pantheon, dedicated in 126 AD,was originally a Roman Temple.  It later became a church in the 7th century.  This magnificently preserved  building stands as a circular dome on a beautiful plaza.  Despite the crowds, the plaza overlooking the Pantheon was a wonderful place to have lunch.   

Following the Pantheon, we headed up another path towards the Piazza Navona.  This plaza was a
huge space with street vendors, cafes, and beautiful fountains. Originally constructed in the first century, Romans used it as a space to watch "games".  It later became a market space and eventually the open public space it is today.  The buildings, churches, and fountains display examples of elaborate Baroque architecture and art.

The following day we explored Rome in the rain.  Not as comfortable, but no less memorable.  We passed a cute tea shop near the Spanish steps.  We discovered churches that we didn't even know
existed.  And we explored the Trajan's Market.

The rain was a great excuse to just wander the city.  Stumbling upon the Trajan's Market was a great discovery.  Possibly the world's oldest shopping
center, the Trajan Market, built around 100AD,  overlooks Rome.  From the upper levels, we could see Palantine Hill, the Imperial Forum, and the Colosseum. 

The Colosseum looks amazing in pictures, but when you see it in person, it just takes your breath away.  We were fortunate to book a tour that took us to all levels of the Colosseum.  Our tour guide was phenomenal and taught us so much about its history.  We explored the lower levels where the slaves and animals were kept.  From there, we could see how they raised and lowered the platforms to bring the animals and gladiators
to the center stage.  We later walked out onto center stage and were able to look at the seats and people surrounding us.  It was amazing at how small we felt.  Finally, we were taken to the top levels.  These higher seats were for the poorer citizens.  Funny thing is, they still had a great view but were out of reach from the wild
animals or swinging weapons.  From the top level, we could see out across the Imperial Forum, across to Julius Caesars' old stomping grounds, and even the famous balcony where Mussolini once stood.

Besides exploring the city of Rome, we also found our way to the Vatican.  Unfortunately, we traveled Easter weekend and the crowds
 were suffocating.  We did get some good pictures before making use of our skip the line tickets to get into the Vatican Museums and
the Sistine Chapel.  Michelangelo's art on the ceiling of The Sistine Chapel was detailed and mesmerizing.  Although many people were lucky enough to grab a photo of it, we followed the rules and refrained from taking a picture.

Rome was by far one of my favorite cities in Europe.  I have
hundreds of pictures and stories to tell, but I've probably rambled on enough.  Have you ever been to Rome?  What are your favorite memories?  Are you planning a trip to Rome?  If so, feel free to leave a comment with a question and I will be happy to help you out in any way I can.

Grab a latte, put up your feet, and join the discussion!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Gift of Balance

 Looking into our children's eyes, we often feel we just can't give enough.  We may even be willing to give up the things we need so that our babies can have what they want.  I think most parents feel this way about their children.  Love makes us generous.  Love makes us selfless.  Love makes us blind.

Parenting is the hardest job a person can be blessed with.  God has trusted you with life's most precious gift.  It is glorious and it is frightening.  Have you given enough love?  Have you made the right decisions?  Have you taught the right lessons?  These questions and million more are constantly crossing my mind.

Like many parents, I feel that over the years we may have unknowingly spoiled our children.  We love them and want them to want for nothing. So we shower them with gifts, treats, and fun outings.  We pick up their slack when they are behind in their chores and responsibilities.  It is easy to do because we love them and want them to feel loved.  But loving is more than giving.  It is more than spoiling.

If all we provided them with were things they desired, they would be lost in life.  Instead, we have given them the gift of balance.  A structured home with family rules has served us well over the years.  (Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.)  We have stayed consistent in our morals even when they learn new ways at school.  An open line of communication allows us to discuss the differences they see at school versus what they have learned at home.  And we continue to provide them with life lessons to prepare them for the real world.

While they are far from perfect, they are well mannered, smart, and kindhearted young ladies.  They still have their moments of selfishness and rebellious behaviors.  But at the end of the day, they have become children of God.  We still struggle with making the right parenting choices, but agree keeping them balanced is the way to go.

Have you found a way to give the gift of balance?   Do you find it tough not giving into your child's every desire?

Grab a latte, put up your feet, and join the discussion!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


I suppose the only real way to improve one's self is to take a step back and give yourself a good once over.  Where does the real problem lie?  Is it actually fixable or something you need to learn to accept?  

Insecurities plague us all.  If you think you don't have any, it is quite possible you are in denial.  We all wish and dream at some point that we could change something about ourselves.  Whether it be the way we look, the intelligence we possess, or our sense of humor, it is hard to be completely happy with who you are.  This simple statement in itself is very disheartening.  And while I know that I can never rid myself of all my insecurities, I am determined to find a way to be happier with myself starting with prayer. ( Philippians 4:6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.)

Like many women in their thirties, I am extremely insecure with the way I look.  There are so many things about my appearance that I dream of bettering or changing altogether.   Of course, some things I need to learn to accept, but others I know I can change if I can just find the strength to persevere and not give in to temptation.  From a friends' and family point of view, I am perfect the way I am.  I am not medically overweight and they cannot understand why I would want to lose weight.  For me, it is about feeling comfortable in my own skin.  Many of my insecurities stem from that little extra weight I carry around my waist. I struggle with my clothes fitting right and that for some reason truly bothers me.  So for the last month, I have increased my daily workouts and have taken 300 calories from my diet.  I have seen such great progress and I hope that I can continue with this lifestyle so that I may maintain a healthy physique.

With my new physique, I think that I can eliminate some other insecurities that I have dealt with over the last ten years.  I have always been a bit of a tomboy but have wanted to dress better for my husband over the past few years.  Unfortunately, my poor body image has prevented me from splurging on the nicer clothes and accessories.   I think in another month I will have reach a comfort zone where I can start dressing the way I've wanted without feeling self conscious.   By dressing better, I may feel more secure that he still finds me attractive.  

As you read this post, you make think this sounds like a lot of whining.  But in my mind, I feel that I am addressing my issues to myself and making a plan to fix it.  Insecurities can consume us if we are not aware of them.   I encourage you to address your own insecurities and brainstorm a way that may help ease them.  I figure this is a small start to improving myself that is within my grasp.  If I can stick with it, I will not only better my mind, but my health as well.

What insecurities do you struggle with?  What steps are you taking in eliminating them?

Grab a latte, put up your feet, and join the discussion

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Goals vs Dreams

New Year's Day is the time for resolutions to be made.  Monday is the time for diets to begin.  Today is when new goals are set.  And tomorrow is when those goals will be reached.  Every year the cycle of resolutions, diets, and goals continues.  But every year many of us fail.  Perhaps the problem is, we've been going about it all wrong.

A couple days ago, a friend posted something on Facebook that made me stop and think for a second.  She knew that she wanted to make some changes in her life, but she wanted to be realistic about it.  That's when it hit me.  So many of us create these goals for ourselves that may be a little farfetched.  We set expectations that are too high and when we don't see the expected results, we quit.  And by quitting, we ultimately fail.

That is when I realized there is a difference between goals and dreams.   A dream is usually just that.   Something that you wish for, but often it is a wish that goes unanswered.  A goal is a realistic finish line that with hard work and patience you can reach.  I can dream of having a body like a super model, but that obviously isn't going to happen regardless of the effort I put towards my workouts.  For starters, I am only five feet tall.  No matter how skinny I get, I will never look like Heidi Klum.  But I can set a goal that I lose five pounds and tone my abs and arms.  This is an achievable goal that will benefit my health.

I can also dream of running and completing a marathon, but again this is an out of reach dream.  For many of you, this is a very obtainable goal.  But for me, living with chronic pain, I need to be realistic and listen to my body.  I need to set smaller goals that keep me moving and out of bed.  Goals that won't get me discouraged to the point of throwing up my hands and giving up.  If working out is hard for you, start small and work your way up.  Reaching your goals shouldn't be a race, but instead a journey.  If you try to go too fast, you again set yourself up for failure.

I've always had the dream to be a published author.  I suppose this a possible dream, but one that comes with too much pressure.  Realistically, most aspiring authors never have their work read outside friends and family,   But they continue to write for the love of writing.  So instead, I have set a goal of editing my finished children's book and completing my YA fantasy novel.  Whether they ever get published or not, I will have reached my goal if I complete them.  This doesn't mean that I will stop dreaming big, but it does mean I will try to keep things in perspective.   (1 Chronicles 4:10. But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.)

Do you think setting smaller goals is smarter or do you think we should continue to dream big?

Grab a latte, put up your feet, and join the discussion!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Modesty Has Left the Building

Fashion has had its ups and downs throughout history.   When living in the moment, we may feel stylish and (dare I say) hip.  But more often than not, we look back on those "perfect" photos and just shake our heads.  However, despite our bright clothing and big hair, we can feel comfortable sharing our photos with our children and grandchildren.  Can this generation of kids say the same thing?

Finding appropriate clothes for my girls has become quite the challenge.  Not because they are getting older and pickier, but because it is hard to find clothing that actually contains enough material.  Shorts are getting shorter, dresses are getting skimpier, and shirts are getting sexier.  My kids are 13 and 10.  They don't need sexier and skimpier.  They need comfortable and durable. (Romans 12:2 "Do not allow this world to mold you into its own image.")

Unfortunately,  my opinion on the subject is definitely in the minority.   If it wasn't, then companies would change their styles and sell more age appropriate outfits.   If it wasn't, I wouldn't have spent our vacations at Disney World walking behind girls with their butt cheeks hanging out of their shorts and their bras showing from the side of their shirts.  If it wasn't, I wouldn't have gone swimming with little ones in bikinis that had less material then those of the Sport Illustrated swim suit models.  

Modesty has definitely left the building in most American households.  But thankfully it is here to stay in mine.  My girls may beg and plead to purchase an outfit that is in style, but as a parent I have the right to say no.   We will continue to have a clothing standard in our home and I will continue to teach my girls to respect their bodies and not flaunt in to the world.

Am I too old fashion?  What are your opinions on the latest tween/teen styles?

Grab a latte, put up our feet, and join the discussion!