Ten things I pack when I travel.

The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. Psalm 121:8, NLT

We’ve traveled enough that I’ve finally caught on to packing a few essentials. Here are 10 things I always pack when we travel.

  1. Just in Case Essentials -- I always pack these extras in my carry-on in case of spills, unexpected weather or delayed luggage: extra PJ’s, undies, toothbrush, basic makeup, Qtips. 

  2. Compression Socks -- especially for long flights. I feel like an old lady, but my legs are happy!

  3. Flip Flops -- for those quick jaunts to get ice or coffee -- or in case we find a beach! 

  4. Magnifying Mirror -- Gotta see what needs fixing.

  5. Basic Drugs -- nothing worse than needing a little medical attention and not knowing a local doctor or the language -- so, I always pack essential pain relievers, basic antibiotics and vitamins. 

  6. Bathing Suit -- even if it’s going to be snowing and cold -- you never know when you might find a hot tub or...
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Five favorite places for coffee.

Wake up, wake up, O Zion! Clothe yourself with strength. Isaiah 52:1, NLT

Not sure we can call coffee, “clothing,” but this is one Bible verse “maybe” referencing coffee. (wink!)

I know there are loads of amazing coffee places in the world, but here are five of my faves. If you’re ever in these towns, be sure to check them out!

  1. La Café Del Caffe -- Rome, Italy -- http://www.tazzadorocoffeeshop.com

  2. Higher Grounds Coffee Shop -- Idyllwild, California -- http://idyllwildcoffeeroasters.com

  3. Eternity Coffee Roasters -- Miami, Florida -- https://www.eternitycoffeeroasters.com

  4. Original Starbucks -- Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington -- https://www.starbucks.com

  5. Biggby’s Coffee -- I go here the most! -- Kalamazoo, Michigan -- https://www.biggby.com
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You need a family vacation, now!

... God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17, NLT

You need a vacation. Now! Or at least regularly -- with, not from, (wink) your family!

Why? Because the clock is ticking and these are the years to make memories. Don’t let the demands of work or financial pressures rob you and your family of taking a vacation where you’ll build memories and strengthen your bonds. 

When our kids were little, I was passionate about taking an annual summer vacation for at least one week with our entire family. In the early years, we didn’t have two nickels to rub together so our vacations were shoestring budget worthy -- but we made memories. We rented little cottages. We went fishing. Made a bonfire. Packed a picnic basket. 

As the kids got older, the vacations changed. Maybe it was a trip out west or to Washington DC...but it often included a beach. 

Now here’s the thing. Our vacations weren’t perfect. There was always chaos....

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Why we are not campers.

So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 8:15, NLT

I promised my family they would love camping in the tent-cabins at Colter Bay near the Grand Tetons of Wyoming — when in fact, I had never been camping there, nor had our family ever camped once in our existence. 

I knew we were in trouble when my husband and I pulled our minivan, filled to the brim with four teenagers, up to our campsite and saw a small tent-cabin (yes, it’s exactly that: a tent-cabin) and a small bonfire pit. (Keywords: Everything. Was. Small. We are a giant family of six—kin to Shrek—each hovering near six feet or more.) When our campsite neighbors pulled up and began to unload their multiple tubs of Rubbermaid camping gear complete with tents, screens, a propane stove, and...

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Two things God told me when we had teens.

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. Colossians 1:9-10, NLT

When our kids were entering middle school. I was nervous.

I remembered being in middle school -- I wasn’t a Christian and it was during that season, I started doing all the bad stuff.

I was feeling anxious as our kids entered middle school. I wondered, “How do you raise Christian teens?”

As I sought the Lord, the Holy Spirit told me two things. 

First, He spoke to my heart with this: “Jesus is the only perfect Person. Everyone makes mistakes and your kids will, too.” 

Second. He went on, “Pray that their mistakes are minor and they learn their lessons...

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Three ways to improve your prayer life.

“Pray about everything...” Philippians 4

Want to jumpstart your prayer life? Get back into an easy groove with the Lord? Strengthen the foundation of your life? Prayer is the way. Here are 3 basic ways to improve your prayer life...

Devote yourself to the Lord -- fully. Jesus was successful in all that He did. I believe His secret was complete devotion and consecration to the will of His Father. Jesus had one ambition: to do God’s will, not His own. When we devote ourselves to the Lord in this same way something powerful happens within us as we lay aside selfish ambitions, wrong motives and the pursuit of temporal results. God works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure and this brings God -- and us -- pleasure! Listen to Jesus’ words:

“I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord—but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes...

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There are many voices.

“There are many voices and none of them is without significance...”1 Corinthians 14

There are many voices in the world. The Bible told us that long ago. With the advent of social media, it’s truer than ever. These days everyone is a coach, expert or prophet. Be careful of the voices you allow into your ears and heart.

There ARE many voices all vying for our attention. Modern marketers go so far as to say that “attention is the new currency.” 

In a world of many voices, how do we know whose voice to listen to? How do we discern voices that are nothing more than a distraction? Can we tell the difference between “voices” and “noises?”

Any voice that is in alignment with God’s voice -- the Bible -- is a voice worth tuning in to.

Any voice that is contrary to God’s Word -- the Bible -- is a voice to turn off.

Any voice that causes you to become critical toward others is a voice to mute.

Any voice that brings fear, panic,...

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How to get more faith.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17, NKJV

Everything God has is available to us through faith! Wow...that means, getting and having faith is supreme! The good news is that God has made obtaining faith easy. However, faith doesn’t come by wishing for it. Begging for it. Or even praying for it...

God’s way of obtaining faith is the same for everyone. Faith comes by hearing God’s Word -- over and over and over! The more of God’s Word you hear, read, study, meditate upon, the more faith will come and fill your heart. The more faith-filled preachers you hear -- those who share revelation knowledge of God’s Word -- the more your faith will be strengthened. 

Listening to your pastor and other Bible teachers and preachers will strengthen your faith. Unfortunately, there are a lot of so-called experts “teaching and preaching the Word” on social media these days, so I urge you to...

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How to plan a mystery trip.

fun

It is God’s privilege to conceal things and the king’s privilege to discover them. Proverbs 25:2

Mystery trips are fun!

My mom and step-dad started this tradition in our family years ago and we’ve continued it. 

What’s a mystery trip? It’s any random, little road trip that has mystery to it -- for you or for your passengers!

The first time I planned a mystery trip, I took my roommate out for a fun day. I packed up her favorite treats (iced tea, wheat thins and granny smith apples) and planned fun, little, out-of-the way pitstops where we could enjoy our snacks and talk. Sure, we could have hung out in our apartment and talked all afternoon, but the mystery trip made it a fun and memorable day.

I planned a crazy mystery trip for another friend of mine after we had graduated from college and were in a “boring season” of life. I decided to nominate her to run for President -- yes, President of the United States! After I stapled...

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What Pigpen teaches us about joy.

fun

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” Philippians 4:4, NLT

Remember Pigpen from the Charlie Brown comics? It seemed like everywhere he went, he was surrounded by a depressing cloud of dirt and dust. 



Ever felt like Pigpen? 

The truth is, we create an atmosphere around us by virtue of the people we associate with, the music we listen to, the places we go, the things we read, the videos we watch, the conversations we participate in, the thoughts we entertain and the words we say. When we live in the “dirty atmosphere” stirred up by negativity, it’s no fun and we’re no fun. 

We can change the atmosphere around us by choosing godly, joyful and faith-filled things. 

One simple place to start is with your music! Think about the power of a song. What songs instantly lift you up, put a pep in your step or fire you up for a workout? What songs help you sense the Lord’s presence, love and goodness? On...

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