No, I couldn’t possibly go to Israel next week.

Trip to israel

Trip to israel

“No, I couldn’t possibly go to Israel next week.”

I told my possibly off-his-rocker husband on the phone a couple of weeks ago. Who was this crazy, spontaneous person, with the wild ideas? I had a full calendar of first-week-of-summer events planned, followed by an even busier 2nd-week-of-summer.

The boys had a dozen places to be, and it is my job to get them there while Alan is the one who takes the exciting trips.

Not me. I’m the dull one.

Ha! Yeah, right. Me, dull? No. Just heavily domesticated.

Our first trip to Israel

crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea

But all of my protests were met with answers. Real, feasible answers.

See, Alan had been planning to go to Israel for a while. It was only at the last-minute that he convinced me to go with him.

Mom’s graduation? I wanted to be there so badly! Well, she was super understanding and said I should go to Israel.

The kids? Well, they are out of school, and both sets of grandparents are available both of those weeks that we would need help.

Camp? Nonna and DaddyO will take the boys to camp. My parents and Alan’s parents took turns keeping the boys.

Expired passport? You can renew it in Atlanta in 1 day, if your trip is within a small window. Mine wasn’t, but I was able to drop off the paperwork and return to pick up the passport 4 days later, in plenty of time for my trip.

The expenses? Cash in all those airline miles we have saved up with Delta and crash in Alan’s hotel room that’s already booked.

Past that, just let it go. When else is all of this going to align so perfectly for ME, a regular old stay-at-home, sometimes work-at-home, mom to get to go to ISRAEL???

…..So I discussed it with my mom and with Alan’s mom, and I slept on it……..

Our first trip to Israel

coast of Jaffa, Israel. Jaffa is where Jonah went to flee from doing God’s will. It was also home to Simon, the Tanner, from Acts 10:6. In the Bible, they spelled it Joppa.

Then I texted Alan first thing the next morning to tell him to count me IN!

Israel was such a grand adventure. It’s going to take me probably 7 blog posts to show you what all I saw, but I can’t wait to share it with you. I want all of you to experience it, as if you were there. A tall order, but I will do my best.

I’m going to break it up with Real Army Wives posts in between the Israel posts because I already missed last week’s, thanks to the traveling, so I need to get back on that!

Our first trip to Israel

not a bad place to work

Trip Preparation

Ya’ll!! I wasn’t super prepared for this trip, but I knew just enough that it wasn’t a total disaster. I literally found out I was going to Israel only ONE week before my departure date. It was insanely last-minute.

This felt like a gift straight from the hand of God himself that just landed in my lap.

Honestly, the scariest part of the ENTIRE trip was having to brave downtown Atlanta alone TWO times to get my passport.

I should explain that I had to prepare for the trip and fly to New York City by myself. Alan had a work trip before the Israel one, so I didn’t meet up with Alan until we were both actually in Israel.

I’ve lived all over the U.S. of A., but Atlanta makes me nervous. There’s a billion ways to get lost, and believe me, I will find them.

I parked right beside the passport office, but I didn’t realize it, so I got lost on foot. A nice man on the street helped me, but then he asked me for money. Homeless men seemed to be at every corner. Sort of reminded me of my California days, only I was accustomed to the ones in California enough that they didn’t make me nervous.

The second day, I got all turned around, couldn’t even find the passport office, and ended up  walking, lost, in downtown Atlanta. This time I made eye contact with no one, but also that meant no one helped me. I hiked back to my car and drove until I found the parking lot from day 1.

Yeah, I have no sense of direction. How did I ever survive before GPS? I cannot remember!

The passport office closes to walk-ins at 3pm, and it was 3:05 ish when I finally made it up to their office complex. I stood there, all defeated, too intimidated to ask for an exception. My passport was ready, and all I needed was to pick it up, so when they opened the door for some other guy, I scooted right in. I explained to the security/lady-in-charge what I needed.

“Is that all you were doing, waiting out there in the hallway?”

“Yes,” I admitted sheepishly.

I have told you all before that I am a shy, shy person.

Our first trip to Israel

Tel Aviv, Israel

These Atlanta mishaps reminded me that when I’m in Israel, I need to be vigilant, not roam around looking like a happy-go-lucky easy-target like I usually do. While I was overseas, I stuck with my friend Julie, or a group of people, so there was no wandering the streets of Tel Aviv alone.

I actually felt very secure the entire trip. Downtown Atlanta was literally the scariest part of the whole thing. Plus, I chose not to drive in Israel, so out went 90% of the stress potential.

Our first trip to Israel

Tel Aviv

Late Thursday morning, I began my journey to Israel.

I flew from Atlanta to New York City, met up with friends that were also going on this journey, waited 5 hours for our flight to Tel Aviv, and then we made our 10 hour flight across the Atlantic.

It was an overnight flight. They expect you to sleep. But who could sleep??? I was sitting between two Israelis, I was excited enough for everyone on the plane, and there was no way I’d ever be able to sleep.

Not wanting to bother people with my reading light or the t.v., as I was in a middle seat, and folks on every side of me were sleeping, I just turned out the lights and PRETENDED TO SLEEP…….for like 8 hours.

Also, it was kind of hard to wake up the dude in the aisle seat, when I needed to use the bathroom.

But who cares? We are going to Israel!!!!!

According to my Fitbit, I slept 2 hours, and when we landed in Tel Aviv it was about 4pm the next day, but it didn’t matter. I was still so ridiculously elated, I couldn’t sleep that first night either.

Y’all, I was like a child on the night before Disney World. I gushed to the nice Israelite lady beside me on the plane, “I’m sort of a Bible geek, so this is like how regular people feel when they go to Hollywood!”

Our first trip to Israel

This is on the Mount of Olives.  *All photos in this series were pictures we took ourselves.*

 

Israel Day 1

The guy at customs in Israel chuckled at the very sight of me.

The middle-aged, partially balding man smiled, “Let me guess. This is your first time in Israel.” (I loved the thick Israeli accents!)

“Yes!”

“How long are you staying?”
“A week!!”

“Who are you here with?”

“My friends.”

He looked up questioningly. Granted, I’d zipped out of that plane so fast, none of my friends were in sight…

“You are with a group? What is the name of your group?”

Panic. My group has no name. What do I say? What do I say? So I didn’t say anything, I guess for too long…

“You don’t remember?” He seemed to chuckle again. I mean he didn’t laugh, but his face and voice seemed to laugh.

“Oh, no, it’s just, there’s no name really, of my group, it’s just my friends…”

“Where are you staying? Can I see your reservation?”

Now I was getting nervous.

I handed him my phone with the hotel app opened. I had no data service yet, but at least he could see that I had made a reservation.

Phew! He let me in. I don’t think he was actually all that concerned about the dorky, happy, red-headed American lady. But let it be known that Israel is thorough.

Thankfully, some of the men in our group had arranged 2 cabs for us, and I got up to my hotel room, opened the curtain, and saw this:

our first trip to Israel

Our first trip to Israel

Yeah. I had a good feeling about all this.

An actual balcony in my room!!!??? With THIS view??? I would never have dreamed. When you opened the balcony doors, it was always comfortably warm out there, with the breeze coming off of the sea. Cats meandered around freely down in that park. Runners, walkers, bike-riders, and sun-lovers galore were strolling about all those pathways. And there was that beautiful water, as far as your eyes could see!

Alan arrived about four hours later, at which point he found me collapsed on the bed in my sleep deprived state. It was a great relief to have Alan there.

There were so many things to see in Israel. We didn’t do it all, but we did see Jerusalem on day 2, so be sure to come back on Tuesday for the Jerusalem article, which I may have to break into two posts.

I hope you’ll come along for the journey! See you in Israel! Shalom, y’all!

 

 

 

 

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5 Steps to Focus on Prayer, Rather than Letting Your Mind Wander

5 Steps to Focus on Prayer, Rather than Letting Your Mind Wander

***This post does contain Amazon affiliate links, for which I earn ad fees.***

I don’t know about you, but I have always done some of my very best thinking during prayer time or listening to a church sermon. It isn’t on purpose. It’s just that it can be frustratingly hard to focus.

Prayer is something I start with the best of intentions. Like this….it’s funny…..

“Dear Lord, thank you so much for this day, and my husband and children, and this house. You have been so good to me……Ugh, it’s a lunch-packing day, and I forgot to buy bread. What is that brown smudge over there? I’m going to have to clean that up. Oh, Lord, do help Gracie with that problem she’s having. I meant to pray about that. Sanctify her heart. My bra hurts. My pants are hot. What did I set the air conditioner on? This summer I’m going to save $250 by not joining the neighborhood pool…Oh yeah, please help Gracie. Give her wisdom for this.”

Yes, it’s that bad. No, all of those thoughts are not prayer thoughts, or even related thoughts. This is how brains sometimes work!

We have to INTENTIONALLY find a way to focus on our prayer, and I recently came across a plan that smoothed out that jacked up roller coaster ride that used to be my prayers.

I found it in this book:

 

I’m reading this book with a small group of women at my church. Page 15 had the prayer-changing-strategy that I found so helpful.

First, the authors, Ralph W. Neighbor, Jr. and Bill Latham, take you through the Lord’s prayer to remind us how Jesus said to pray. Most of us are familiar with that.

But then, they actually break it down to prompts that you PERSONALIZE for your life on that day.

5 steps to more focused prayer, rather than letting your mind wander

These are the questions they ask you to fill in:

  1. “What will you say to God to show how you respect and honor him?” Then they give you space to write out what you are actually going to say.
  2. “What part of your life and your world do you need to commit to God’s control today?” ____________________________________________
  3. They ask you what you need to ask forgiveness for. Ouch. Yep. Be honest.
  4. “Where do you need God’s protection in your life today?”  I love that we have this sort of heavenly Father. He WILL give you protection where you need it, when you ask him.
  5. “What can you say and do to recognize God’s rule over your life today?”

 

These 5 simple, PERSONAL, questions provide you with an outline to focus on your prayers.

It’s not just a list of gimme, gimme, gimme either. It’s a true heart check and conversation starter.

Yes, many of us keep a prayer list of names and needs, but this is better than that alone because it changes everyday, and it encourages you to give God glory and thanksgiving, rather than just a list of requests.

I found it much easier to FOCUS on what I was praying, using this guide, than my typical mode of just letting the words flow from my mind and heart with no aforethought. There’s nothing wrong with that, but as I showed at the beginning, I simply have trouble FOCUSING.

Many people use a 5 step outline for prayer, but I found this to be even better for my mind-wandering because it required me to write down what I wanted to say on this particular day, what was relevant at the moment.

I hope you find this useful. I think it would be wonderful to fill up an entire notebook of prayer outlines like this, all filled in.

 

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed by your name.

Your kingdom come, 

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, 

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.”

–Jesus, in Matthew 6: 9-13

 

I hope you all have a wonderful week. It’s the first week of summer here! Time to have fun with the kids!

 

 

The 15 Best Things About Having All Boys

The 15 Best Things About Having All Boys

The 15 Best Things About Having All Boys

This week I happened upon a super cute post by Janine Huldie titled The 8 Best Things About Having All Girls.

I had to read it! I needed a sneak peek into what that world is like because, mamas, the view over here, in my house of many little men, is a whole lot different!

Janine wrote a great article. You should totally go read it.

The 15 Best Things About Having All Boys

Things I stumble upon while the boys are at school. I feel certain there is a very important conversation going on here.

Naturally, Janine’s list inspired me to type out my own best things about having all boys, a life I never dreamed of having. Never in a million years did I plan to be a mom of all boys. No, I was not a tom boy. No. I never played a sport, unless you count cheerleading or church league volleyball, or gymnastics…….okay so really it would be more accurate to say I was never into sports.

I don’t fish, touch worms, or laugh at bathroom jokes, and I love everything sparkly and glittery. My toy of choice was Barbie dolls, and I’ve never made a mud pie in my life.

I was never a wuss either. I grew up climbing trees and doing bicycle stunts, and by the way, I killed a snake once.

But oh man, this world of testosterone I’m living in now is a unique ADVENTURE. Here are the 15 BEST things I could think of about having all boys. 

15 Best things about having all boys

#1. Their clothes are cheap, and you don’t have to buy that much.

It’s so easy. For setting my oldest 2 up for spring/summer, I bought them each a new pair of tennis shoes, gym shorts, a pair of camo shorts, sleeveless tees, one nice shirt a piece, and that was it. I was done. The others have handed down clothes.

#2. All boys want to be Batman.

Not even kidding. They have all gone through the Batman phase. They have all worn the costume. It’s universal, and it is the cutest thing ever.

15 Best things about having all boys

#3. The Hair

Wet it. Comb it. Done. So easy. Very little room for drama.

#4. Going to the Bathroom Alone

Once they are fully toilet trained, and they have a big brother to escort them, you are done.  Will you ever see me in the bathroom with a little person sidekick? Nope. Am I the one who has to take them to wash their hands at restaurants? Nope. All Daddy. And when Daddy isn’t there, I send them in pairs, with my oldest son. I’m a free woman.

#5. Bug Squashers

They squash the bugs for me. Never have I had to hear someone flipping out because they ran across a bug. They live for getting to squash pests. I’ve seen them kill spiders with their bare hands.

#6. They don’t expect me to play with them much.

Does that sound mean? Don’t worry. I promise I do play with them sometimes, a little. I’ll play board games or occasionally jump on the trampoline, and I love to read to them. But no one asks me to spend a bunch of time at a tea-less tea party or dressing a Barbie doll. I’ll even color, but thankfully, no one expects me to play pretend, which is a relief! They know my interests are a little different than theirs, and they play basketball or super heroes without me.

 

15 Best things about having all boys

#7. Boys love their mama.

“I’m riding with Mom!”

“No! I want Mommy do it!”

Mom. Mom. Mom. We are still at the golden age where it’s still all about mom.

#8. The hugs!

I’m sure girls are very affectionate too, but I just adore the way little boys are so physical. That means lots of wrestling with their dad, but lots of hugs for mom.

#9. The laid back atmosphere!

When you are dealing with a house full of dudes, the approach to social functions, free time, vacation, etc., etc. is seriously laid back. There’s not a person in the house that cannot get up and ready in just a few minutes, if necessary.

#10.Their toys are simple.

Hot Wheels. Action figures. Trains. Baseball cards. Skylanders. Done. No need for a billion tiny Shopkins pieces. No need for a $200 doll with a $40 dress.

#11. Hand-me-downs

I have 4 boys, but I actually only have to buy a full wardrobe for 1 of them, and then I get quadruple my money’s worth out of each item they don’t destroy.

#12. Body guards

I do feel extra safe already when I go walking with one of my already-over-5 feet tall and 100 pounds pre-teen boys. Just imagine how much more like a body-guard they will be in just a couple more years! We strut across those parking lots like we own the place.

#13. They’ve made me less prim and proper.

Yeah…. I can say “Everybody get their butts in the car” as loudly as I want because frankly, they love the word butt. It makes them soooo happy.

Me, showing off all my newest Crimson Tide jewelry.

#14. I get to focus all of my fashion efforts on my OWN wardrobe.

Who has the cutest Lula Roe leggings outfits in this house? Yep. It’s me.  Who has pretty colored hair clips? Again, me. And until the boys get married, I get to be the prettiest girl in this house.

and last but not least…..

 

#15. No crafting requirement

I don’t craft, nor do I ever have to craft again. A friend of mine, who is a girl mom, said that the girl moms make bows and do crafts at play dates. I don’t know if that’s true, but I was horrified at the idea of doing anything other than laughing loudly at playdates.

I hope you got a couple of good chuckles out of this list. Being a boy mom is a treasure. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Whatever your situation is, it has to be THE BEST, because we only get one go at life. Might as well enjoy it.

Are you a boy mom or a both mom? Be sure to check out Janine’s list if you’re a girl mom! I enjoyed her insight.

 

 

Exciting Things to Come on Stories of Our Boys

Every Monday: a new installment of The Real Army Wives blog series on storiesofourboys.com
the real army wives series

Noooo…it’s not a puppy. Did you think it was a puppy? This is Nonna’s new dog, Bella. 

***This post does contain affiliate links, so I collect ad fees if you buy from my links.***

There’s a book I have been wanting to write for a while now, but I didn’t want to let the blog go either, and there’s no way I could do both.

 
Then I bought this ebook by Crystal Paine (she’s like my unofficial life coach). It’s called 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life. 

I started reading it a couple of days ago, and in the book she encourages you to write down the mega project you are not doing because it looks too hard. Then make a plan.

So I have been planning and praying about that mega project that has been on hold, and the answer came to me. Break it into chapters. Run it as a series on the blog. I may not run all of it. There may be some chapters that you will have to wait for the book.

So from now on, my friends and readers, I’m going to attempt the first scheduled thing this blog has ever done.

The Real Army Wives of the War on Terrorism series.

I am going to tell my own personal story of being a military spouse through the War on Terrorism. And if any of you would like me to run some of your stories too, send me a submission! I may have to edit it, but I will be happy to do so and see if I can work it in.

These are not war stories (sorry to disappoint some of you). These are stories of what the family experienced.

I’m also not overly wild about how lengthy my title for this series is. If any of you have a shorter title idea, I will consider it, for sure!

Just The Real Army Wives, maybe? What do you think?

Can’t wait! So when do we start?

Every Monday. Every Monday there will be a new installment of this series, and we will begin with my story of 9/11/2001 because that’s the day the course of the Army wives’ lives was changed.

The 9/11 story will be up on Monday, May 15, 2017. Before you even get your coffee, it will be in your inbox.

Pssst! Once I’ve completed the series, I’m going to put it all together in an ebook for my boys and grandchildren to read someday.

I feel like they should hear the story of what happened from a first-hand account. Wouldn’t you love to have something like that from your ancestors about their time period?

One More Big Event Coming Up

Sat., May 13, 2017, my contribution to 30 Days of Tween Parenting Encouragement will be on Like Minded Musings. If you have a child ages 8-12, head on over there and check out the other articles. 30 days of relevant articles for parents of tweens! I love this!

Eleven articles are already up, and there are 19 more to come!

Want to make sure you don’t miss my new series about real Army wives?

Subscribe to my Army wives series. Now, if you are already subscribed to my blog posts, as in you get every single post I write in your inbox, don’t subscribe to this one.

But if you do not receive my blog posts and would like to only subscribe to the Army wives series, fill out the form below.

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I am so excited and nervous about this at the same time. Can’t wait to begin! See you Monday over here and Saturday at Like Minded Musings!

 

 

Arguing is the Thing That Gets on My Nerves the Most

You know what gets on my nerves the most? Arguing.

Arguing is the thing that gets on my nerves the most.

All the kinds of arguing. I know when my kids argue it just means I’m going to end up having to deal with it. I know when my husband and I argue, I’m going to say something I regret.

And yet, sometimes I find myself being argumentative. In fact, if someone tells me to do something I don’t want to do, I can become downright belligerent.

It’s like a scab. You know you shouldn’t mess with the scab. You should let it heal, but sometimes you just GOTTA pick at that scab.

And then it’s all bleeding again….and then you’re all looking for tissues. Then it’s time to leave the house, and the worst of it was that the scab was on your face, and now you have to try to put some make-up on it.

And it’s just a big mistake.

Arguing is usually a mistake.

But then other times, arguing almost has to happen. If there’s anything I’ve learned about arguing though, it’s that it’s best to do in person and NEVER over text. Over text, people can’t hear the charming tone of your voice, and they may not know that you’re a person that makes a lot of jokes…

I keep a little tab in my Bible journal about arguing.

We all read things differently and have different take aways, so arguments happen. We simply don’t always agree with each other.

Nor should we expect to always agree with each other. I think the gist of the Bible verses I have found is to avoid arguing over things that don’t matter.

(If only I could always let the little things go…)

We have to keep our focus on the right things, and then we are less likely to argue about the wrong things.

Plus, as I tell my children, we have to not be selfish and give others a little space.

Sometimes, to avoid arguing, I will try to keep quiet too long. And then I explode, and it gets ugly. Clearly, that’s not the way to go either.

 

Most people are somewhat reasonable and will listen to what you have to say, so long as you just talk and don’t get all worked up.

Arguing is the thing that gets on my nerves the most.

Thankfully, Alan is super reasonable, which is a good thing, since I’m married to him.

But maybe you aren’t dealing with a reasonable person, and that’s where you have to decide if you want to deal with their hissy fit or pouting, or if you want to go along with their way as usual.

The only thing is, if you go along with their way every single time, they will never learn to deal with disappointment. Some people are like children. They still need to learn that lesson. We can give many times, but if we are always the one to give, explosions may happen. It’s better to gently state your case and hold your ground from the get-go.

The Bible puts it pretty pointedly.

“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth and that they will come to their senses & escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”                     2 Timothy 2:24-26

Now some of you may be thinking that I must be coming off a big argument which caused me to write about all this, but if I had, I would be too mad to write about all this. Instead, I figured I’d write about my pet peeve while I’m not actually in the middle of arguing with anyone.

Okay, pet peeve #2 is whining, begging three-year-olds, and I have one at my feet right this second, BEGGING to paint.

So yeah, time to go paint…

What about you? What’s your pet peeve?

 

 

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