Memorial Day 2014…honoring the intent of the holiday…

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for the US Armed Forces men and women who have died in service of the United States of America. The holiday, celebrated on the last Monday of May, was originally called Decoration Day and began after the Civil War to commemorate they Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the war. This has since been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in military service.

Today, in honor of Memorial Day, my husband (US Army veteran) and I visited the Middle Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery. It is a beautiful cemetery, surrounded by the rolling hills of middle TN. There were many people visiting graves, driving through the cemetery, walking through the graves, even a group holding a memorial service by the grave of their loved one. It was a touching visit.

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived. ~General George S. Patton

Happy Memorial Day and may God continue to bless the United States of America and those who serve to keep us free!

Yolo!

-Jan

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He’s the Birthday Boy…

…and he’s my Dad!

With my Dad on his birthday last year

With my Dad on his birthday last year

Dad…on this day I want to especially thank you for the foundation of strength, wisdom and hope you provide for our family. I’m forever grateful that God chose YOU to be MY dad.

May God bless you richly in this new year of YOU.

I love you,

Jan

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

happy-birthday-2

$49 Cruise – Really? Yes!

I’ve had many  people question me about the reality of the $49 cruise my family and I took to the Bahama’s a few weeks ago. Since there seems to be such disbelief, I decided to write a review and answer some questions.

Did we really pay $49 per person. YES! With port fees and taxes, the total came to about $180. We were on the Carnival Fascination and sailed out of Jacksonville, FL…I closely watched Southwest Airlines and purchased direct, non-stop flights from Nashville when they were on a super sale! Our ports of call were in the Bahamas, Freeport and Nassau.

I am a member of a discount travel club which purchases cruise cabins in bulk. We had about 300 people on the ship (15% of total guests)…hence the great price! The savings on this cruise alone paid for my membership fee!

Instead of paying the suggested $30 per person transfer fee…a big bus taking you and your luggage from the airport to the pier…we took a cab for $30 each way, for all 4 of us. Saved 50% on getting to and from the ship. I called ahead and verified the typical cab fare…I would suggest doing the same before you bail on the suggested transfer option.

I opted for us to stay in an interior cabins. At the time of booking for a nominal additional $50 per person you could upgrade to a porthole window and for a bit more you could have a balcony. I wanted the full $49 experience, so we stayed in the interior. I have to say…I was worried about feeling claustrophic and was I pleasantly suprised! We were only in our rooms to sleep or change clothes…I never missed the window! The ship had a webcam we could access on the tv – so it was like a virtual window…showing us what it was like outside. The twin beds can be arranged into a king for couples or into separate twins for room-mates. Honestly…I never missed the window!

Service on the ship was absolutely incredible! Everywhere you went there was someone available to wait on you. And with a SMILE!! I spent time getting to know our support staff, from cabin stewards, to waiters in the dining room, to the dining room Maitre D, to the manicurist and masseuse…yes…my husband spoiled us with some extras!

Everyone…absolutely everyone that worked on the ship that I came into contact with…did their job happily, with a smile, with a true heart for service…I honestly felt it was all about ME having the best possible experience with them that I could. They got to know my name and I knew theirs. Imagine if we all approached our businesses with such a heart for service. It would be game changing.

The activities on the ship were plentiful! You could participate…or not. It was your choice. No pressure. Comedy shows. PG and R rated were incredibly funny and entertaining. 2 different comic’s with distinctly different styles. Games to participate in or just watch. My daughter and I went to the Love Game – kinda like the newlywed game but with couples at different stages of marriage. We also went to a towel folding class to learn how to make the cute animals you find on your bed every evening. There was a main show of singing and dancing – great talent! Disco, piano bar, casino, kids area, pools, hot tubs, slides, mini-golf, art gallery and more! There was a huge party on the Lido Deck the night we sailed out of Nassau and headed back to the US. Live music. FOOD.

Food was everywhere. Constantly available. Do NOT attempt a diet while on a cruise. We ate in the dining room every night and were treated to steak, salmon, mahi mahi, crab cakes, prime rib, lobster, shrimp and the most decadent desserts! There was no limit to the amount of food they would bring you…our waiter commented on a guy at another table eating 10 lobster tails!

We had a private cocktail party for our group after a group photo on the main staircase. FREE wine, beer, soft drinks, fruit punch for the duration of the party. DJ, dancing, birthday recognitions (it was my birthday the day before we sailed)…fun, fun, fun!

There are many opportunities on a cruise to spend money, so come with your spending budget in mind. You could cruise and not spend much extra at all. The food, water, tea, coffee was all included and readily available. Tips were added to the bill automatically though you did have the opportunity to change the amount if you felt so inclined. Bottom line, you’ll get information about opportunities from your cruise line once you have booked your ticket. Set your budget and your mindset and then have FUN!!

We did massages, enjoyed some fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas in them and an excursion to the Atlantis on Paradise Island to slide through the shark tank and we contributed a tiny bit to the casino. We had fun with friends, met some great new friends, had quality time alone as a family and as individuals.

It was a great get-away for us and the best $49 I believe we’ve ever spent! I’d love to have you join us…or have the ability to take your own dream vacations. Call me. Email me. Facebook me….just raise your hand and I’ll let you know how you too can travel, save money, have fun and build relationships!

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YOLO!

Jan

PS – It was WONDERFUL to wear flip-flops in January!!!

 

 

 


 

The Awesome Adventure – Day 2

Today was the first full day of our Victorious Secret Retreat with 40 women from Highland Park Church. Penny is leading our bible study; she refers to opening your bible and diving in as the “awesome adventure”. I love the visual that it provides for me.

We spent 2 full hours in quiet “secret” (personal/private) study – one hour in the morning and one in the afternoon – each after an opening session with Penny and followed by a wrap-up session.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’ve been in a season of searching for understanding/direction and healing since losing my job a little over year ago.

This morning I had a personal and private breakdown and breakTHROUGH during my morning session…which then was reinforced by the message Penny gave in our wrap-up session. Her words were surely meant directly for me. God was clearly speaking through her.  Suffice it to say that God is indeed good…ALL the time.

I am right where I need to be.

I’ve been promising some pictures – enjoy this slideshow!

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YOLO!

Jan

Hosea 6:1-3 Oh that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn…

How do you stay entertained when you are snowed in?

Many people are snowed in today across the south and other parts of the country. I’m in Nashville and my yard has 3-4 inches of the white stuff depending on where you measure. I’m hearing reports of 3-10+ inches south of us, into Alabama and Mississippi. Another storm is due to come through tonight and will bring even more snow.

So…how do YOU stay entertained when you are snowed in at home…NOT at a vacation destination.

I’m sitting by the fireplace – reading, catching up on emails, checking facebook, writing this blog, etc. I’m also enjoying the view in our back patio area of the many birds flocking to the bird feeder my husband is keeping filled. My kids are going to “tease” me for being “old” by enjoying the birds…who cares! It’s fun watching them around the feeder and on the ground trying to find some food. The bright red cardinals are STUNNING against the white background of snow. It’s much more entertaining than watching the people flocking to Whole Foods and Kroger looking for food yesterday!

My husband and son are home as well; they are watching movies, Rich is doing some computer work; basically they are relaxing. Which is a good thing. They both deserve it.

I’d love to hear how YOU stay entertained when you are snowed in!

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YOLO,

Jan