Don’t Miss the Charm of Connecticut

IMG_7023The late afternoon sunlight gave the salt marshes a golden glow and we took a deep breath of the briny air coming in through the open car window. We pulled into the parking lot behind City Hall and jumped out to catch the sunset from the floating dock. A fishing boat slowly glided up the channel with the day’s catch and the gulls followed closely, hoping for a sample or two.

It’s a common view among the small coastal towns that dot the Connecticut shoreline and yet each of these New England gems offers its own unique charm. An afternoon drive along US 1 will be the highlight of your summer.

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For your mind, visit RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison’s picture-perfect downtown. Step through the door and back in time. In a technological age where e-readers are everywhere, there’s just something magical about stepping into a real live bookshop with shopkeepers who are friendly and passionate about words. Offering over 300 events per year, RJ Julia connects authors and readers and inspiration abounds.

For your body, Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea is a few steps down Main Street’s sidewalk. Inside, you can find delicious treats and a great selection of coffee drinks to enjoy in the café. Better yet, Willoughby’s offers an unbelievable variety of serious coffees and teas from around the world to buy by the pound and brew at home whenever you like. On a beautiful day, sit at one of the sidewalk tables and soak in the sunshine and small town life.

IMG_7024For your soul, drive across town to Hammonasset Beach State Park. Stay for a weekend in the campground or stay for the day on the two-mile stretch of beach. Visit the nature center to learn about the history and ecosystem of the area. Hike some of the bluffs for beautiful views of the rocky coastline. Watch the Ospreys swooping and soaring across the wetlands. Walk the sand hunting sea glass. Just pick a spot and let the surf soothe your soul.

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For your mind, stop in at Cindy Stevens Fine Art. Browse the gorgeous paintings and be swept away by local New England scenery. Chat with the artist and get the behind-the-scenes story of some of her paintings. Feeling inspired? Get back in touch with your own creative side and attend an art class or a paint night. The gallery offers a variety of events for grown-ups and for the kids in your lives.

IMG_7025For your body, there is no more iconic spot than the practically-world-famous Lobster Landing. Open seasonally for lunch and dinner, Lobster Landing is perched on the harbor and offers outdoor seating and a BYOB policy. A sunset, a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and a steaming lobster roll at a harborside picnic table is all you need for the perfect dinner on the shoreline.

 

For your soul, head back over to Main Street and don’t you dare leave town before you find yourself climbing up on a bar stool at Scottish Dave’s Pub. There are no strangers at the only Scottish pub in Connecticut. Well, not for long anyway. On any given evening, you can chat with a group of 20-somethings with an impressive appreciation for classic rock or a couple in their 80s who can tell you stories that are impossible to tell whether it’s fact or fiction and that makes it all the better. If you’ve timed it right, you can catch traditional Celtic music or maybe even a ballad from Dave himself. Either way, you’ll leave feeling like you’ve been a part of something pretty special.

 

Essex
For your mind, head just a bit inland and catch a ride on the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat. Get whisked away into the past as you chug along old tracks through the scenic woods and across picturesque wetlands. Sit on the right side of the car for the best river views. Then board a riverboat and float away down the Connecticut River. See eagles nesting and get a good look at Gillette Castle high on the cliff. The narrators tell you stories that will both educate and entertain.

 

For your body, take a walk down Main Street and just soak in the beauty of stately historical homes and beautiful gardens lined with picket fences. Be sure to look for the plaques fastened to the home fronts that reveal the year in which the house was built. You’ll find homes approaching 300 years old! Walk through the park and enjoy the peaceful shade of the enormous trees. Maybe you’ll catch a film crew taking advantage of the quintessential New England charm of Essex.

 

For your soul, spend a night at America’s oldest continuously operated inn. The Griswold Inn, affectionately known as The Gris to its faithful patrons, is a living piece of history that opened its doors in 1776. Have dinner in one of the dining rooms where you can almost see the sailors and soldiers sharing dreams of independence. After an incredibly delicious meal, make your way into the Tap Room for a rollicking night of singing along to all the classics. Be sure to say hi to Bobby, my favorite regular. You’ll find this older gentleman standing by the fireplace, holding his beer, and dancing with the young ladies. When the last song is sung, head upstairs to one of the beautifully appointed guest rooms. Don’t pass up a chance to immerse yourself in history and luxury.

 

Connecticut may not have the reputation of a popular tourist destination, but that’s just what makes it one of the best choices. Plan a trip to explore and get away from it all. Connecticut may be small but it has so much to offer for your body, mind, and soul.

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Take Heart, Daughter – TGT

 

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I don’t like to wear short sleeves. Even the hot, humid summers here in the Deep South will find me on the verge of heatstroke in cardigans with the sleeves pushed up. I know it’s ridiculous. Every summer, I promise myself I’ll grow up and be more mature about it next year. But each time I look in the mirror and see the thick, jagged, raised scars crisscrossing my right arm, I chicken out and throw on that sweater. It’s just easier to avoid what they represent to me.

My scars don’t have an interesting story behind them—no exciting adventures, no secret tragedies. Each one of my thirteen scars is from a near-miss with melanoma. Those lines across my skin serve as a reminder of all the times I went without sunscreen. To me, they’re wagging fingers pointing out my foolishness.

Scars on the Inside

I carry scars on the inside as well, and I like to hide them from the outside world just as much as I like to hide my visible scars. My inside scars are the words I wish I could unhear. The words I wish I could unsay. The moments I would change if I could. The hurts I’m ashamed to feel as deeply as I do. Just like my physical scars, these inner wounds remind me of my foolishness—and my weakness.

Those inconvenient aspects of being human—imperfections, mistakes, and failures—are what we put the most effort into hiding and minimalizing. They’re also basic, common threads that link all of humanity. We all deal with hard stuff. We all mess up. We all fall down and need a hand getting back up. And yet we never want to seem weak, so we spend a lot of time and effort covering our scars so no one sees them.

Recently, I’ve begun seeing these scars in a new light. Where I once saw only my shame, I’m beginning to see the loads of grace behind each and every scar. Those unhealthy moments weren’t the end of my story. The scars aren’t just evidence of mistakes; they’re proof of healing…

To continue reading this post, please click through to The Glorious Table:
https://theglorioustable.com/2019/02/take-heart-daughter-womens-devotional/?fbclid=IwAR2zgmLovoYyIC9LpqEQkJP6uk6mkWWJlTiP7n26VBhpsF76EmwT8y16oCA

Take Heart, Daughter

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Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

Social media has been a hard place lately. Between the news stories and political happenings and the responses of friends and family sharing their own stories and then the responses to the responses of friends and family, there is one thing that has been made so overwhelmingly clear.

It’s something that can’t be debated or doubted or downplayed and it’s this–there is so much hurt out there.

With each new secret shared, my heart is continually being brought to its knees.

But as a society, pain makes us uncomfortable so our first reaction is to discount it or rationalize it away. We tell ourselves there are ulterior motives or political manipulations.

I just want to stand on the roof of my house and shout.

STOP. EVERYONE JUST STOP FOR A HOT MINUTE.

Your neighbor. Your babysitter. Your mother. Your mail carrier. People are hurting.

And they are vulnerably and courageously bringing their broken pieces out into public view. With trembling hands, they are offering up their stories and holding their pain up to the light.

Just stop for a second and consider what you’ve been hearing from the people you pass on the street, in the grocery store aisle, in the halls at work.

So many people have been going about their lives, never letting on that they were carrying these heavy, heavy burdens.

But Jesus sees those broken places inside us and wants to heal more than just our bodies. He wants to heal our souls.

“Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed at that moment. (Matthew 9:20-22 NIV)”

This woman had suffered from a bleeding condition for twelve long years. Her physical pain must have been great. Her body must have been struggling with all sorts of issues resulting from continuous blood loss. This is what I’ve always tended to focus on when I read her story—the obvious need for physical healing.

It’s hard for me to imagine the modern-day equivalent of the crushing loneliness this woman must have lived with for the last dozen years. In a time when bleeding women were considered unclean and sequestered in isolation, the last twelve years of her life must have been a nightmare.

But Jesus knew. He not only addressed her physical healing, but with a single word, he addressed her emotional healing, as well.

Daughter.

With that single word, he banished loneliness and isolation and brought her into community. In the presence of so many witnesses, he deemed her wanted and welcomed. As far as I can tell from my limited knowledge and research, she is the only person Jesus referred to as “daughter,” and she just might have been the one whose heart needed to hear it most.

We all have our scars and broken places deep within us. Lately, more and more of those hidden wounds are being brought out into the light. It’s been overwhelmingly heartbreaking to see just how many have been carrying such heavy burdens of pain, often silently.

Take heart, daughter.

He sees the invisible and hears the silent. He heals the hidden hurts.

Created to Create

Coastal Sunset

“How on earth do you have time for that?”

When I first began writing, this was by far the question I received most often. The inquiry was legitimate. My husband was in nursing school. My oldest was in the process of an autism diagnosis. My youngest was potty training. I was working part-time and found myself in the middle of a downward health spiral, which led to two autoimmune disorder diagnoses.

When you add all that to the regular requirements of being a human—carpool, dishes, cooking, laundry, groceries—it’s a wonder I had time to breathe, much less write.

The weird thing was I couldn’t keep from writing. Yes, I barely had time to breathe, but it was the one thing that seemed to help me keep breathing. Whenever I began to feel overwhelmed with the circumstances of our lives, I felt the urge to type out my thoughts. I joked about it being free therapy. But for a long time, I had an enormous amount of underlying guilt associated with every minute spent at the keyboard.

I stopped talking about writing. I began to hesitate every time I was about to share my latest post. I downplayed any growth or progress made through the hobby I loved so much. I spent years like this, and I often went through phases when I gave up writing altogether. I would try to focus all my energy on being a better mother, a better wife, a better housekeeper, until the day I realized writing makes me a better mother, a better wife, a better housekeeper.

We Are Created by an Unimaginably Creative God to Be Creative

To continue reading this post, please click through to The Glorious Table here: http://theglorioustable.com/2018/06/created-to-create-womens-devotional/

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Find me on Instagram at @ashleydpooser

The Best Moms Are Selfish

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No matter what your journey to motherhood looks like, moms everywhere suffer from early onset Mom Guilt. It is running rampant through our community. I think it might even be contagious. Often, we even struggle with especially complicated cases of Mom Guilt when we have guilt for not having guilt.

“Oh. She is feeling terrible for mistakenly grabbing the nonorganic milk. Why don’t I feel terrible for giving my kids regular milk on purpose? I must be a terrible mom.”

It’s gotten so bad we consider it “selfish” if we ever use our energy, our time, our money on anything other than our families.

Time to get selfish.

I’m here to remind you, mama, it’s time to be “selfish.”

You do everything for everyone all the time. You go hours and hours and then realize you haven’t eaten. Or gone to the bathroom. Or taken a breath. You work so hard for your family.

Listen. You can only give and give and give of yourself before you run out. Out of patience. Out of energy. Out of cares. And then it all tends to fall apart.

When we are “selfish,” we take the time or resources needed to do something on our own and for ourselves. And it gives us life. It reminds us that we are whole human beings with so many gifts and talents to offer this world. And while motherhood is one of the most beautiful parts of who we are, it is not all we are and we cannot allow it to swallow us up…

Please click through to Atlanta Area Moms Blog to continue reading about why the best moms are selfish. (https://atlanta.citymomsblog.com/mom/best-moms-selfish/)

Home Is Wherever I’m with You

 

Home is a fluid term.

It has meant so many different things to us over the years.

Whenever I smell salt air or hear seagulls, I feel at home. Those are some of my earliest memories from a childhood spent in a tiny coastal Florida town.

Home also meant Tallahassee. And for at least a decade, it meant the little blue house with the red front door. The place where we learned to adult and brought babies home and navigated some of the most brutal and some of the most beautiful times of our lives.

But then we moved and before we knew it, Atlanta felt like home. Our growing family bonded over a shared adventure. Parents and kids alike were on equal footing as we all faced new routines, new places, making new friends.

Home was our little rental house where Abby took her first steps and the big kids learned to ride bikes. Where I learned how far I could push my sleep-deprived body and where I also learned how to ask for help. Finally.

Home is the “unicorn house” we found together. Our answered prayer, a house that checked off so many boxes for an incredible bargain courtesy of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

home is wherever i'm with you

Home.

The one thing connecting all these places?

My people.

The grubby hands. The smiling eyes. The fussing and the laughing and the singing from the next room.

The smell of freshly washed toddler hair. The bear hugs from arms that are somewhere between man and boy. The gentle tugs of my hair while little fingers practice new braiding techniques.

This.

This is what home will always be.

And this is what we take with us. It is not limited to buildings or towns. And that’s a good thing. Because we are about to blow out the traditional limits of what home means.

In just three weeks, we will pack up a summer’s worth of daily life and begin a thousand-mile drive. Jake accepted a 13-week assignment as a travel nurse for Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital in Connecticut.

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Our inner gypsies are thrilled. We cannot wait to see and explore and do. We are already planning adventures in New York City, Boston, Plymouth, Montreal, Philadelphia, Washington, and so many places in between!

The inner Type A control freak is completely overwhelmed. Our calendar is insanely full before we leave.

Oh. And we don’t actually technically really have a place to live just yet. Cue absolute stress meltdown.

Remember that bit up there about me learning how to ask for help?

Well, friends, this is me asking for help.

Know anyone in the New Haven area who’d like to bring in some summer income on a garage apartment or an attic or a basement or a camper or a boat or a van down by the river? We’re nonsmokers. No pets with us. (April will be at summer camp with Nana and PopPop.)

We’re friendly people. I mean–we’re absolutely crazy–but we’re sweet. =)

Comment or email with any leads! If your tip leads to us finding a place to live, I’ll give you a handpainted wooden sign of your choice from my Etsy shop, Haven Creek!

home is wherever i'm with youSo, friends? We’re really doing this! We’re taking this show on the road. If you’re in the New England area, let me know. If you know of any awesome roadside stops between Atlanta and Connecticut, let me know that, too.

If you would like to follow along on our adventure, be sure to follow my Facebook and Instagram. I cannot even begin to imagine the ups and downs this summer will bring us.

I hope you’ll join us on our journey!

5 Reasons Moms Should Celebrate Galentine’s Day

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February is here. We all know what that means–celebration of love. Love for those special people we can’t imagine living without. People who love and support us through thick and thin. People who know us better than we even know ourselves. People who would drop everything and be by our sides in the good times and bad.

Our girlfriends!

I know this isn’t exactly breaking news, ladies, but motherhood is HARD. It can be messy, frustrating, exhausting, and lonely. So when we find other women who can truly get where we’re coming from, we need to grab hold and hang on for dear sanity.

They are the ones we celebrate on February 13th, the unofficial holiday of Galentine’s Day. If you’ve never observed Galentine’s Day before, here are five reasons why you absolutely should!

1. We need people who know our names.

Like. Our real names. Not Mom, Mama, Mommy, or Snack Lady. Motherhood can tend to cause us to forget our identities. Our girlfriends understand this and they help us remember who we are.

2. We need people to laugh with.

Motherhood is full of those times when you just look around and think, “No one will ever believe this.” Like when you open the front door to find a sheriff’s deputy answering a 911 call you didn’t know had been made. Or when the baby locks herself in the bathroom and the big kids try to fix it by removing the doorknob and you almost have to call the fire department. (Yes. These actually happened to me. Within a two-day time span.) Our girlfriends will not only believe us, but they have probably got their own crazy stories to help us feel not so alone in the insanity…

To continue reading reasons 3-5, please click through to Atlanta Area Moms Blog here! https://atlanta.citymomsblog.com/mom/5-reasons-moms-celebrate-galentines-day/

Finding Quiet in a Noisy World

A few weeks ago, the audio system in our old minivan died a sudden and unexpected death. No matter how many fuses we replaced, we were unable to resurrect the speakers, the CD player, or the AM/FM stations. As a huge fan of road-trip karaoke and stoplight dance parties, I was in mourning.

Trips anywhere seemed to take twice as long without the company of background music or podcasts to pass the time. The silence was new. I felt antsy. My thoughts were bouncing around and completely scattered.

We’re unaccustomed to silence. We attempt to fill the stillness with distractions. We scroll through social media during TV commercial breaks. We often can’t fall asleep without the television on. Many of us don’t even go to the bathroom without a phone or tablet with us.

The writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 3 to fix our thoughts on Jesus. I would be willing to bet we all long to hear the voice of God in our lives. I’ve prayed countless prayers asking God to show me what to do or say, where to go or how long to stay. And yet I’m not quiet long enough to listen for his answer. I’m not still.

Last month I participated in a twenty-four-hour fast with other members of our church. We were coming together to offer focused prayer for a particular concern. While most people followed tradition and abstained from eating for the duration of the fast, I chose to avoid all screens. When I felt the urge to reach for my phone or the remote control, I prayed instead…

To continue reading, please visit http://theglorioustable.com/2018/02/finding-quiet-noisy-world/

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What’s Your Word?

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A few years ago, my New Year’s resolution was to never again make a New Year’s resolution. I had a bad habit of setting my goals way too high and then falling short every single year which left me feeling like a total failure.

I would decide on New Year’s Eve (probably after eating pizza and chicken wings) to run 20 miles a day and do eleventy thousand push-ups and eat kale at every meal. Then, on January 4th, when I would inevitably find myself polishing off the last of my kid’s mac and cheese, I would feel so defeated. The shame would come crashing down when I counted up how many push-ups I had actually done (negative seven).

Something had to change.

Instead of resolutions, I began to choose one word for the upcoming year. I would spend the last week of December reflecting on the year. Which areas of my life did I do well? Where did I struggle? How would I love to see myself at the end of next year? Then I would try to set the tone for the next 365 days by choosing one special word to be a reminder to myself of how I want to live my days. And with that small change, everything shifted…

To continue reading please click through to Atlanta Area Moms Blog here: https://atlanta.citymomsblog.com/mom/whats-your-word/

What Moms Really Want for Christmas

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In a recently conducted, extremely reliable, incredibly scientific poll done by–um–me on my social media, researchers (also me) have discovered what moms truly want for Christmas.

The question posed to moms was simple: “If Santa could bring you anything, real or imagined, what would you ask for?”

The responses came and a trend overwhelmingly presented itself. While Santa might have a hard time filling the requests exactly as hoped, I took the liberty of offering up a few, slightly more realistic, alternatives.

CHEF
Every evening around 6:00, these people who live in our houses want to eat. Again. Which means we’re supposed to feed these tiny humans. Again. There are only so many times we can get away with frozen nugget-shaped meat product and leftover shells and cheese. Believe me. I’ve tested those limits. So if Santa could bring moms a chef to do all your menu planning and shopping and cooking? Dream come true. A personal chef is sadly out of reach for most of us. But what about these alternatives to make mealtime a bit easier?
– Meal Subscription Service that could deliver fresh ingredients and detailed recipes right to your door. No thinking required. Which is great because I have zero brain cells left by dinnertime.
– Grocery Delivery or Curbside Pickup is now a thing at several major supermarkets. Not having to become the People of Walmart twice a week sounds heavenly to me.
– Menu Planning and List Making Service would at least cut down on the time it takes to plan the weekly menu and shopping lists. This would save us all from being stuck in a repetitive dinner rotation.

To discover the next four must-have gifts for mom, please click through to Atlanta Area Moms Blog. Because while Santa might have trouble gift wrapping a maid, there are some great alternatives waiting to go under the tree! http://atlanta.citymomsblog.com/mom/what-moms-really-want-for-christmas/