Friday, December 7, 2018

Five Loves on Friday // Highlights of the Past Month | 20th Wedding Anniversary, Birthday, Holidays, and More!

Happy first Friday of December, friends!  So many wonderful things have been going on around here lately that have kept me (happily) away from my computer, leaving my little nook of the blogosphere a quiet space.  I thought I'd remedy that on this fine Friday morning by chatting with you all about the highlights of this past month I've been away, good old fashioned Five Loves style!

One  //  20th Wedding Anniversary
"Second Honeymoon"

Jason and I were able to get away just the two of us for a wonderfully refreshing celebratory vacation over the week of our twentieth wedding anniversary.  We spent 9 fantastic days hand in hand right back where our marriage began, Walt Disney World.  We took it a bit slower than we do when our thrill ride loving teens are with us.  We soaked up the atmosphere of each park, enjoyed eating our way around the world at Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival, and savored some of the best meals I've had ever at WDW, two of which were at new-to-us signature restaurants.  We spent many afternoons relaxing on the private balcony of our beautiful savanna view villa at our Disney Vacation Club home resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge, watching the giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, antelopes, and more.  The sweetest part about this trip was simply spending a little over a week of uninterrupted quality time with my favorite man on the planet.  I keep saying it felt like our second honeymoon, so we began calling it that.  We returned refreshed and our marriage is even richer for having taken this getaway to celebrate our life as husband and wife.

Here are some snapshots from our anniversary evening.  

Anniversary dinner at California Grill on the 15th floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort

Our appetizer - braised beef short rib wontons

My entree - grilled Colorado bison loin with gouda macaroni and cheese

Castle view from our table

Jason's dessert - pear crème brûlée 

My dessert - chocolate cake, of course!

I am so looking forward to recapping the entire trip here in the coming year!

Two  //  Princess' Birthday

I'm still not sure how this is possible, but my firstborn turned 17 at the end of last month!  Once again, I'm picking my jaw up off of the floor just saying that.  I have no idea how these years have passed by so quickly, but every single day of the past seventeen years has been sweeter because of the precious gift she truly is to our family and all who have the pleasure of knowing her well. She's so thoughtful, kind, caring, helpful, talented, smart, and lovely - inside and out!  I couldn't be more grateful to God for blessing me with the privilege of being her mom!

Three  //  Celebrating Thanksgiving with Extended Family

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  I have such fond memories from childhood of going to my aunt and uncle's every "Turkey Day" to feast and enjoy the company of my entire family.  Three things remain unchanged no matter how much time passes - each year my aunt and cousin put together beautiful tablescapes that are absolutely a feast for the eyes, we enjoy a truly scrumptious spread at those lovingly prepared tables, and the conversations had there are so delightful I wish they never had to end.  I definitely don't take for granted the fact that I come from a family that I genuinely love gathering with and for that I'm incredibly thankful at Thanksgiving and always!

Four  //  Thanksgiving Day with my Loves

My in-laws hosted a lovely Thanksgiving with my husband's side of the family a month early to accommodate travel schedules and we feasted with my family the Sunday before the holiday.  This meant that we had the entire day of Thanksgiving free to enjoy as a family of four which is always so much fun! 

We kicked off the day with our favorite tradition - a feast of a breakfast cozied up in pajamas under a pile of blankets, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade followed by the National Dog Show.  We ate, laughed, snuggled up with the ones we're most thankful for, and created new memories that fill this mama's heart with joy!  

Thanksgiving afternoon we headed to the movies to see Ralph Wrecks the Internet.  I won't give any spoilers, but will say the parts that included the Disney princesses were my favorite (literally laugh out loud hilarious)!  If you catch the flick be sure to stay all the way to the very end following the credits. ;)  

We came home to an untraditional Thanksgiving dinner of pork chops, potatoes, and carrots in the slow cooker.  I whipped up some mac and cheese, a few other yummy veggie sides, rolls - all of which we feasted on for days.  Start to finish it was a fabulous day with my favorites!

Five  //  Christmastime!

One simple joy of this season was driving beside snow-covered branches while seeing my husband's delight over taking our new 4-wheel drive out on wintry roads for the first time.   I'm thankful for the beauty of a Midwestern winter, for these wonderful wheels we got this year, and my talented driver who gets us safely around even on icy roads (and actually enjoys driving in winter weather)!

That brings us to the most wonderful time of the year, Christmastime!  My family and I have been soaking up every fantastic bit of this festive season!  At any given moment of the day my home is filled with the sound of either a Christmas song or movie playing and is lit with the glorious glow of Christmas lights shining on our sparkly and sentimental decor.  

Best of all, Christmastime is a season to reflect on the reason I celebrate this holiday.  My heart overflows with gratitude to God for sending the Savior and Redeemer who has brought me hope and promise of eternal life!  Oh, what an amazing gift God freely offers to all who place their trust in the finished work of Christ.   

"For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."  (Ephesians 2:8-9)  

Jesus said, 

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11:28, 30)  

To anyone out there trying to make it on a "good" list, the burden of striving to save yourself through your own works can end today.  If we could save ourselves through our own efforts God would not have sent Jesus to be born of human flesh to live the sinless life He alone could being fully God, yet fully man.  God's plan of redemption was fulfilled when Jesus, altogether pure and holy without sin, died upon the cross as the only perfect sacrifice to bear the complete punishment for all the sins you and I have committed against God throughout our lifetime.  Through this perfect plan God's righteous justice was completely satisfied, and the debt of every sin we've ever committed against God could be paid in full through the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  When we repent (ask God to forgive us and turn away from sin) and place our trust in Him (rather than striving to earn forgiveness and righteousness ourselves) the gift of salvation is freely given to us!  His payment for our sins is essentially credited to our account and we are made right with God, now and for all eternity.  He gets all the glory and we receive the free gift of salvation and eternal life!  What a reason to rejoice!  (To learn more visit:

I hope this season is filled with family fun, deliciousness, and time with those dearest to your heart.  Above all else, I pray that you'll receive the gift that Jesus was born and died to give.  Here's one of my favorite (untraditional) Christmas songs.  The lyrics put the meaning of the season into perspective.  I couldn't love it more!

For anyone reading this blog post via email subscription, you can view the video here.

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  Wishing you an extra marshmallows kind of weekend ahead, sweet friends!

Join me in the adventures to come!
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  1. I have so much joy seeing all the loveliness from your past month! You've celebrated big and small! For a lot of people, so much celebration might be extraordinary. But for you, sweetest friend, it's your way of life! I absolutely LOVE that about you! Happy Christmastime! I'm so glad we can celebrate in such a way that brings TRUE joy, knowing that we have been given the ultimate gift of salvation. Love you bunches!!!!

  2. I always love your posts, they always make me smile. Aww, I love that you got time with your husband to have a 'second honeymoon'. I bet it was lovely taking Walt Disney World at a slower pace. I think we want to stay at the Animal Kingdom this summer when we go, but I'm not 100% sure on that yet. I didn't know they had signature restaurants! That food all looks amazing. I love the Thanksgiving tablescape, too that your family put together. I really feel like I need to slow down and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and soon. I've been so wrapped up in all of the shopping, wrapping, etc. and it's not what this season is truly about!! Or maybe I just need more time in my day. ;)


  3. Happy Anniversary! It looks like you had a wonderful second honeymoon. I'm glad you are soaking up all the little moments this holiday season. And happy birthday to your daughter.

  4. Wow, what a fun filled month and good for you and hubby for getting away by yourselves and celebrating each other. I so enjoyed reading this post! Blessings abundant!

  5. Loved this recap! Such good gifts from above, my friend! <3

  6. I can't wait to hear more about your trip. It sounds like it was amazing! Happy birthday to your daughter! We also like to watch the parade and dog show on Thanksgiving!

  7. So happy to stumble on your blog, I really enjoyed this post and others I caught up on! Happy Anniversary! My husband and I are celebrating our 10th and are going on a trip, just the 2 of us. I think it will be so nice to have time alone together, no distractions. Have a great week! :)

    Gina ~ Ciao Bella


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