Lovin’ Ohio (And No, That Isn’t Sarcasm!)

Last weekend, BP and I traveled to Hocking Hills State Park for a mini-vacation with our friends, LK and BK.

I was reminded of what Ohio has to offer in the way of travel, fun and adventure. There wasn’t any need to venture further than my very own state to have a fun weekend out of town with good friends.

Several months ago, I booked a very nice house for us all to stay in. (BP rolled his eyes when I told him we were staying in a cabin – house is probably a more accurate term. And he told me this did not qualify as camping.)

BP and I arrived several hours before our friends, so we went ahead and did some hiking in the Old Man’s Cave area. It was beautiful, and although BP made me nervous jumping all over the rocks and onto cliffs and ledges, it was a good hike. We are from the flatlands of northwest Ohio, and so the mountains (I can hear all of you out-of-staters laughing now, but to me, they are mountains) of southern Ohio were an enjoyable change of pace.

BP on a cliff

BP making me nervous

Old Man's Cave

BP in Old Man's Cave

Saturday morning started with all four of us on an 11-mile canoe trip (which took us three hours – Go, Us!) down the Hocking River. And despite the fact that I requested a 9 a.m. take-off time when I booked the trip online, the livery had us on the river around 10 a.m. I”m still not sure they ever found my reservation. But, we did get to the river and all was well.

BP and me

BP and me, ready for the river

While we were canoeing, we did get to see one of the newest offerings of the area, Canopy Tours, in action. One of their zip lines runs across a portion of the river, and it looked like a lot of fun. That activity is on our List of Things Definitely To Do when we go back. I’d have loved to have done it this year, but since I’m preggers, I decided it wasn’t a great idea.

me and BP

me (with my baby bump) and BP during a hike

Other areas we hiked included Cedar Falls and another park area.

The moral of this story: explore your state! Support your local economy and get to know what your state has to offer you! After all, your tax dollars are helping to pay for it.

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O, Little Town of Bluffton

Last weekend, I tagged along to cute little Bluffton, Ohio, with a good friend, LK. She was headed to The Food Store there, and since we share an interest in health and nutrition, I thought it would be a fun afternoon.

It was definitely worth the trip (not that I doubted it – LK is one of the most fun people I know). We started at The Food Store, which is located downtown at 103 S. Main St. It had all kinds of goodies – organic products, hard-to-find flours, bulk ingredients and other fun food things. She filled up a basket with some snacks for her small son and some other items; I left with some chai tea, both original and peppermint flavor. The employee who was working that day was helpful and friendly.

After stashing our goods in LK’s vehicle, we decided to take a walk through the small downtown and check out some of the local businesses.

We stopped in Forever In Stitches, which presented us with a beautiful display of fabric bolts and finished quilts upon entering. I’m sure this little shop is frequently visited by avid quilters. It was gorgeous. The fabrics were gorgeous. Just stepping foot in the door made us want to go home, get out our sewing machines and start stitching! It really was a visual delight, and an inspiration to me to get out the two quilt tops I’d set aside before BP and I started remodeling a couple of years ago. And on top of it all, the employees there were friendly, helpful and chatty.

It was a cold afternoon, and we were cold, so our final stop in the little town of Bluffton was Common Grounds Coffee House. LK ordered a salad and a small hot apple cider, topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel. I also ordered the hot apple cider, medium, no extras. Both of us were satisfied with our choices and we chose a table for two alongside a back wall. The atmosphere was warm and inviting, and there were several seating options available depending upon your desired level of privacy.

During our walk downtown, we also passed the local courthouse, which was decorated for its annual Blaze of Lights, a village-wide folk art Christmas display. Though we were there too early in the day to see the lights, the display draws many, many people from surrounding towns each year.

And last but not least, we also passed the Shannon Theatre, a staple in Bluffton for as long as I can remember. The small, one-screen theatre calls itself “Your Best Value in Family Entertainment!” It’s a great place to take a date or your family for an affordable evening out, complete with movie theatre popcorn!

Next time you feel like getting out of town, give Bluffton some love!

The “Things I Am Thankful For” List

With the Thanksgiving holiday just days away, I feel compelled to write the obligatory “Things I Am Thankful For” list.

This list includes things that I truly am thankful for on a daily basis, in no particular order:

  • BP.
  • Family and friends who love me despite all the times I put my foot in my mouth.
  • Living in a country where I can declare faith in God without fear of persecution.
  • The ability to get up and do the things I do every day.
  • My good health.
  • Domesticated animals.
  • All of the wonderful people we’ve met through our church.
  • A warm, dry place to live.
  • A hot meal.
  • The best in-laws ever, seriously.
  • New opportunities and the wisdom to recognize them.
  • The beauty God created in nature.

I think that’s where I’ll stop, though the list could go on. BP and I have been blessed in so many ways, it’s easy to lose count of them all. But, for all of them, I am thankful.

Go Ahead, Dream Again

What’s your dream?

Really, what is it? Go ahead. Think about it. And think big.

So many of us shelve our dreams as we get older. We forget what it feels like to really dream big dreams like we did when we were little kids. The world around us squashes our dreams like they’re bugs, and we start to believe they’re not possible when people laugh and brush us off as insignificant.

But achieving your dreams is possible. You just need to look at your life from a different perspective; trust that God knows what he’s doing; and be willing to walk through the door when He opens it for you – even if it does seem crazy at the time.

For years, BP and I had prayed for something to happen in our life – we didn’t know what it was we were praying for exactly. We just knew we couldn’t live the rest of our lives doing what we were doing. We knew there had to be more God wanted from us and for us.

We’d stopped dreaming big. We’d stopped expecting big things. And we’d stopped praying for big things.

God does work in mysterious ways, and he must have a sense of humor. Little did we know that when BP was introduced to Mona Vie in 2008 that things were going to change – a lot – and it was the door God opened for us.

Since we’ve been involved with Mona Vie, we’ve realized that big dreams are possible. It is possible to have a better marriage. It is possible to do more for others. It is possible to change your life in a big way. It is possible that God will use you in more ways than you ever imagined.

Has it ever been our big dream to be the “juice people”? Of course not! But God uses unconventional methods to wake people up and get them dreaming again. And He opens up opportunities for us to realize our dreams.

Maybe your door to your dream isn’t through the “juice business,” but it could be. It was for us, and it is for an increasing number of others, too.

So go ahead. Dream. Dream lots of dreams. And make them big.

A Mona Vie team of dreamers. Oct. 17, 2009

A Mona Vie team of dreamers. Oct. 17, 2009

Marriage Made Better

Today was our first life group  meeting of the new school year. We visited with some old friends and got to know some new friends. And it was great.

But why shouldn’t it be? God makes everything great, if you let Him.

Over the course of our married life, my husband (BP) and I have had our disagreements and arguments. We’ve had more moments of joy and laughter. But none of those times was as good as they could have been if we’d have let God in all the way – not just let Him peek in the window when we pulled back the curtain.

Any good marriage can be made better when God is part of it. Worshiping together, praying together and discussing God’s word together will only make a relationship stronger and better. It will make a good marriage a great marriage – even a fantastic marriage.

I’ve seen it happen in my own home. I”ll pray it happens in yours!