Last week my husband and I had the opportunity to go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and spend some time together kid-free. It was so restful, and we enjoyed having the opportunity to talk and get to know one another as best friends again rather than just a parenting team.
Gatlinburg is such a great location for anyone living in the southeast when you need an easily accessible place for a quick getaway, so I thought I would share all about our trip to give you some ideas for spending your time there!
Where to stay
We were blessed by the kind folks at Gatlinburg Falls Resort, who were willing to partner with us by providing a place to stay so that I could tell you all about it! We actually stayed there last year with our kids and had a positive experience, so I'm glad we were able to go back again!
Would you like to take a tour of our cabin? Take a peek inside in the video below!
We arrived in Gatlinburg well before check-in time, so I called the office to see if there was any possibility of checking in early. The girl at the front desk was super nice and helpful. She put our cabin in as priority to be cleaned so that it would be one of the first ones done. Their policy says that check-in time begins at 4 pm, and that each cabin may not actually be ready right away since they have so many cabins to prepare for guests. Ours was one of the first ones done and we were able to get in right at 4:00. I felt like we were rushing them because my husband had a migraine and I was hoping he could go lie down. While we sat around in the office, the clerk contacted the crew several times to see if they were done yet.
As soon as we got into the cabin, we got a knock at the door from a maintenance man. Evidently we had rushed them too much and there were a couple more jobs that needed to be taken care of. The hot tub needed to be checked, the beds did not have their comforters on them yet, and a broken towel bar needed to be re-hung in the bathroom. He was very apologetic and did his best to work without disturbing us.
Everything in the cabin was very clean. I get grossed out easily, so it was nice to be able to enjoy my stay without feeling like I couldn't touch anything.
We had everything we needed for an enjoyable stay – TV's, internet, washer and dryer, dishwasher, jetted showers, game room, porch with rocking chairs, and of course, no relaxing getaway could possibly be complete without a hot tub!
I've checked out the prices on the website for Gatlinburg Falls Resort several times, and I think they are quite reasonable. If you follow them on social media, you'll find that they often have last-minute 50% off specials, which is a fabulous deal! Follow them here: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
What to do
We spent a good portion of our time just hanging out at the cabin, relaxing in the hot tub, cooking nice meals together, and catching up on about 5 years worth of sleep. 🙂
I was excited to find out that the Elkmont fireflies would still be in season while we were there. There is an area about 7 miles from our cabin where there are thousands of fireflies. They all light up at the same time and then they all go dark at the same time. It is a spectacular show and Elkmont is only one of 2 places in the world where this happens, from what I understand. We hiked a good ways up the Little River Trail right before dark and then just sat in the woods until dark. Once it got dark the show began, and it was fantastic! We tried to video, but with our unprofessional equipment, the video did not turn out. However, here is a professional video of the experience. Since we went a week after the predicted “peak season”, there were only a few people out on the trail, but the show was still good!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
If you like to get out in nature and enjoy a hike or just drive through the beautiful scenery, you're only minutes away from doing so when you stay at Gatlinburg Falls Resort. Here is a directory of hikes rated by how easy or hard they are. (I had to stick to the easy ones! 🙂 )
We took our kids last year, and it was nothing short of stressful! There were so many people, and it was hard to keep track of all the kids in the crowd. Going as a couple was so much more fun! We leisurely browsed all the gift shops and just enjoyed each other's company. This year, instead of spending money on parking, we took the Gatlinburg Trolley. We parked for free at city hall, which was just down the hill from our cabin. Then we rode the Trolley into downtown for the whopping cost of 50 cents each. (Parking downtown is around $8 – $10, so we saved ourselves a heap of money, plus we got the pleasant experience of riding the trolley.)
If you like to play miniature golf, go to Hillbilly Golf! We've always looked at it when we have gone to Gatlinburg, but this trip was the first time we have gone. We will be back! Not only was it a unique experience playing mini golf on the side of a mountain, the course itself was challenging, which always makes it more fun! The owners were super friendly too!
There we are in the middle seat:
They pull you up the mountain in this little car and then you play golf on the side of the mountain!
No trip to Gatlinburg would be complete without heading over to Cades Cove. Cades Cove is an 11 mile loop that you drive around. You're almost guaranteed to see wildlife along the way. Stop at the little pavilion right before you enter the loop road and pay a dollar for the little map/guide thingy. There are houses and churches spread throughout the cove, and knowing the history of them makes the drive more interesting. You can also get out and walk around the buildings, and there are some short hikes you can take as well.
If you're not into driving around bumper to bumper with dozens of other cars, and long for a bit of peace and quiet, you can pull off Rich Mountain Road about a third of the way through the cove. Be sure that's what you want to do since it's a one way road and you won't be able to re-enter the cove. Instead you'll travel a windy 12 mile gravel road up to the top of the mountain and wind back down again where you come out in Townsend, TN. There's not much of a view other than the forest and the switchbacks below you as you make your way up the mountain. But you'll have the pleasure of being alone, and you'll get to enjoy two beautiful overlooks.
What to eat
The benefit of staying in a cabin is that you have a kitchen. By eating most of our meals at the cabin, we save a lot of money on food. We can eat a lot healthier than we would if we were eating out too, which makes us feel better, which means our getaway is more enjoyable! Plus, my husband and I enjoy cooking nice meals together when we are by ourselves. There's something relaxing about cooking when you don't have a bunch of people to clean up after! But of course, it's fun to eat out once in a while too. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of healthy options in Gatlinburg when it comes to restaurants. Here's where we ate:
Whole Earth Grocery
This was a little health food store tucked away up on a side street in Gatlinburg. They have a cafe inside that serves healthy lunch options. I had a chicken salad sandwich with potato salad. They serve salads and sandwiches there with potato salad, pasta salad, or organic blue corn chips as the side. You can grab a bottle of kombucha out of the fridge for a drink if that's your thing. 🙂
I did not care for the atmosphere inside of this restaurant. It seemed like the bar was the main focus, which we didn't even realize until after we ate and went inside to pay. They had tables outside, and we enjoyed people-watching while we ate. 🙂 The food was amazing! My husband had a reuben sandwich, and I had a burger. It was huge!
The first words my husband said when he took a bite of his sandwich were, “Oh wow.” Since he's not easily impressed, I'd say he enjoyed his sandwich as much as I enjoyed my burger. (Or maybe he was saying “Oh wow” at the sight of me trying to stuff that whole burger into my mouth! 🙂 )
Other things to do
You can certainly find much more to do in Gatlinburg than we did. You can visit the Ripley's Aquarium, go up in the space needle, or ride the skylift to Ober Gatlinburg. You can visit the arts and crafts district. You can go ziplining or horseback riding or whitewater rafting.
Whatever types of things you enjoy, they are probably there. For us, we were more than satisfied with hanging out at the cabin, spending time in the woods, and getting a small dose of the gift shops.
If you are in need of a relaxing time away with your spouse, I highly recommend slipping away to Gatlinburg for a few days!
Don't forget to follow Gatlinburg Falls Resort on social media so you can take advantage of one of their specials!
“We're done, mom!” Three children stand beaming at me from their version of a clean kitchen.
One glance around the room tells me they are far from done.
Now I have a choice. Do I berate them for being lazy and doing a sloppy job? Or do I calmly and kindly say, “Well, I can tell you all have been working hard, but mommy's going to show you a few things that can make the kitchen even cleaner, okay? First, you want to make sure you squeeze the water out of the cloth really hard so there won't be water dripping all over the table when you wipe it…”
I think we would all agree that it is only fair to remember that little children must be taught how to do things before they should be expected to do them the right way.
And yet, so often, we as parents forget that children are learning so many new things every day, and we could stand to cut them a little more slack. (Read: The Thing Most Parents Forget About Their Kids)
I have noticed some additional deficiencies in Christian parenting skills that most of us could stand to improve (myself included for sure!)
1.Laziness/inconsistency – We've all done it. We call our child and they don't come, so we call them again. They still don't come. We call a couple more times, more loudly each time, until finally they hear, “GET IN HERE, NOW!!!!”
If we would get up the first time they don't come and take care of the problem immediately, our children will never have to wonder if we mean what we are saying. We will never work ourselves up to the point of anger due to repeating ourselves and continuously being ignored.
We can more honestly teach our children that they ought to obey because God says to, rather than by our actions teaching them to obey because mom or dad will eventually get angry if they don't.
2. Lack of Thoughtfulness – Does God clearly teach children to obey their parents? Certainly. But never does God give parents permission to be slave drivers, never giving heed to the fact that the little person you are teaching is also a fellow human being.
What tone of voice do you use when speaking to your children? Would you speak to another adult that way?
Does “Be ye kind one to another” apply only to other adults?
Yes, we need to teach our children to obey. But we must remember that we have other jobs besides teaching – nurturing, comforting, helping. When too much focus is placed upon obedience, it's easy for things to get out of balance.
3. Lack of clarity – When you are giving a command that you expect your child to obey, don't phrase it as “Why don't you…?” “You should…” “Can you…?”
I've been reading Parenting is Heart Work (affiliate link), and they say that you need to phrase commands in a way that the child is positive it is a command and not a suggestion.
Use phrases like, “You need to…” instead.
Once again, if a child is not clear about the command, the child is not likely to obey, and the parent is likely to become angry – neither of which are the desired outcome.
4. Lack of Follow-through – Ouch! This is the area where I have the hardest time.
I tell the kids to clean their room and later see them playing. “Did you clean your room?” I ask. (Of course they answer yes!) At bedtime, when I see that their room is not thoroughly clean, I get irritated because their room is a mess, but I don't want them to stay up any later to clean it. I should have gone to check it immediately when they were finished.
Parenting is Heart Work makes it clear that there are 2 sides to the responsibility when a command has been given. The child has a responsibility to report to you when they are finished, and the parent has the responsibility to follow-through with making sure the job is done and done correctly.
5. Forgetting to teach them how to do a job – This goes along with what I was talking about at the very beginning of this post. We must remember that they are children, that they are learning lots of things, and that we must invest lots of time teaching (and reviewing) things before we can expect them to do it perfectly.
Sometimes teaching children is as simple as playing a role-playing game where they come to you when you call them. Parenting is Heart Work explains in detail how to do this.
6. Praise for a job well done – Should children be expected to obey? Certainly! But I think that because many parents expect just that, so when the job has been done they say no more about it.
I don't know about you, but I love it when someone acknowledges my hard work, whether it was something I was supposed to do or not.
Is it my part of the family responsibilities to put supper on the table every night? Sure, but it's so nice when people tell me thank you and that they enjoyed it.
Our children have emotions just like us, and we can provide so much encouragement to do right just by giving them some positive reinforcement.
Which of these mistakes do you need to work on the most?
Have you ever arrived at the end of a chapter in your Bible reading and realized, “I don't remember one single thing I just read”?
I do that all the time!
My mind gets so preoccupied with remembering everything I need to do that I'm reading the words but not really processing them.
Or sometimes I'm just flat out tired and my brain isn't exactly functioning very well.
Read out loud.
It feels a little awkward at first, but once you start it's easy to keep going.
It amazes me how much easier it is to focus on what the verses mean. And quite often, even on days where I don't feel like my brain is fried but I'm just having a little trouble understanding the passage, it suddenly makes more sense once I read it out loud.
Reading your Bible out loud also works well if you have little ones clamoring for your attention. You get your time in God's Word, and they get to benefit from hearing you read it too.
Oh, and one last thing. You can use this tip for prayer too! When you're falling asleep, just start praying out loud and you won't have that problem any more!
Would you like to be more intentional about spending time in the Bible and prayer?
I've put together a 7 day email challenge where I share how to keep a spiritual journal, how to study the Bible, and how to have a more meaningful prayer life.
Care to join me? Just click the button below!
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind.”
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind.”
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind.”
(Isn't that what God's word is supposed to do? It's sharper than any two-edged sword. Amazing that it does what God said it would do.)
As I read those words I knew exactly what God what telling me. And I could do nothing other than to bow my head and say, “Yes, Lord. You're right. I haven't been very long suffering or kind to my children lately.”
Oh, I'm very familiar with I Corinthians 13. I know that it's saying that it's pointless for a person to do great things to spread the gospel if they don't have Christ-like love for people while they're doing them. Then it goes on to describe exactly what Christ-like love is.
It starts with the words, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind.”
The reason that hurts so much is because I was hit with the realization that spreading the gospel isn't something that just happens “out there somewhere.”
And if I'm not being long suffering and kind with my children, all my efforts to spread the gospel to my children are pointless.
“But, Lord, it's so hard! My physical issues make it seem impossible to be longsuffering some days. My anxiety and stress levels are through the roof, especially when the kids seem determined to get on my every last nerve!” (Read: Why your physical health affects your ability to be a gentle parent.)
“My precious child. This is my will for you, and I will not require anything of you that I will not give you the strength to do.” (Philippians 4:13)
All I can do at this point is to humbly thank God for his living Word. It shines a light into the dark corners of my heart to point out where I'm wrong. And it gives me hope that I can do right through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So today I'm asking him to give me the strength to be long suffering and kind with my children.
This post is part of the Parenting with Gentleness series.
When it comes to spring cleaning, I do not have a week or even a whole day to dedicate to scrubbing every nook and cranny of my house. With 5 small children underfoot, there's only so much I can do. There are diapers to be changed, boo-boos to be kissed, and mouths to feed (5,897 times a day.)
As a busy mom, I try to focus my spring cleaning efforts on what I call “quick wins”.
I look for things that I can do in about 5 minutes or less that will make the biggest difference in how clean that area is. That's it!
When Babbleboxx asked if they could send me a box of spring cleaning items to try, I readily agreed, knowing that I'd be able to use these tools for my 5 minute “quick win” sessions!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Single Edition Media.
You know how the little drips from laundry detergents and stain removers make the shelves where they sit get all gunky and slimy? Cleaning this area can be a quick win for you!
Have you ever used shelf liner anywhere in your house? Well, there's a new kid in town that takes things to a new level when it comes to shelf liners.
My laundry room shelves were experiencing gunk overload, so I knew I needed to do a quick win on them. Babbleboxx had sent me a roll of Duck Smooth Top Easy Liner with Clorox, so I used that to line the shelves of my laundry room cabinet.
Apparently, shelf liner is no longer plain old shelf liner. Duck Easy Liner now has a Clorox antimicrobial coating embedded into it to help prevent mold and mildew growth.
It was so quick and easy to cut the liner down to size and put it on the shelf, but it made a noticeable difference in how clean the shelf looked. (The “quick wins” are my absolute favorite when it comes to spring cleaning!)
I really liked the smooth top. Those sticky-feeling shelf liners have their place for other things, but when you need to slide laundry products in and out all day long, they can get annoying. The smooth top makes it so nice. Plus, the smooth top makes it easy to wipe down if something gets spilled on it. (The underside is still sticky so that it stays on the shelf without sliding around.) It's water-resistant too, which is a good thing, since I'm using it in the laundry room. And finally, if I ever needed too, I could toss it into the wash (yes – it's machine washable!)
All these factors made it the perfect choice for this job.
Do you have a spring cleaning job where Duck Smooth Top Easy Liner would be helpful?
You can purchase it in either white or taupe, and it comes in both 12” x 10’ and 20” x 6’ sizes.
You wouldn't think removing water stains from wood would be a quick win. I wouldn't anyway.
My husband's night stand had gotten some pretty ugly water stains. It was one of those things where I was going to research “how to get water stains out of wood” — someday. I just hadn't gotten around to it yet.
But since Babbleboxx had included a bottle of TriNova Wood Cleaner and Conditioner in the spring cleaning kit they sent me, I thought, “Why not? It can't hurt to try.”
Wow! I honestly did not think it would get the stains out! I thought it would clean any surface residue and shine it up a bit, but I was shocked that it took the water stains right out!
If you have a lot of wood surfaces in your house, you can use TriNova Wood Cleaner and Conditioner for any of them, such as furniture, cabinets, or hardwood floors.
I really loved this product so much more than I expected to. It doesn't leave any kind of residue; it just made the wood feel so smooth. (And of course it took out those stains!) I will DEFINITELY be using this often to keep my wood surfaces shiny and clean.
You can pick up TriNova Wood Cleaner from Amazon right here. Through April 30, 2017, you can use the coupon code Babble20 to get an extra 20% off.
Another area that I wouldn't necessarily have thought would be a quick win certainly ended up that way with the right tools for the job.
I was walking through the kitchen and I noticed how horribly dirty the fabric on our island stools had become. (Note to self: when there are kids in the house, only purchase hard surfaces for anything that goes in the kitchen.)
(Wow – that's embarrassing!)
I was trying to figure out what I could use to clean it, and I thought, “Well, Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner is supposed to be all-purpose. I wouldn't normally think to use it on fabric, but let's just see what happens. At this point, I certainly can't make that stool any worse.”
It's all-purpose all right.
I've used the bottle of Simple Green for tons of little quick-win jobs since then – mopping the floor, wiping down baseboards, anything that looks dirty really. I LOVE having all-purpose cleaner around! (And I love that Simple Green is non-toxic too.)
Simple Green is a concentrated cleaner, meaning that you should dilute it for most jobs because it's just way too powerful for what you need. Diluting it means that one bottle goes a LONG way, making it very cost-effective.
But when you have a really tough job, you can use it straight, and it will do your cleaning for you without the need for much elbow grease from you.
I also received a bottle of Simple Green Stone Cleaner and Polish, which I didn't try because I don't have surfaces in my house that called for it. I'm sure it does just as good of a job as the all-purpose cleaner, though.
You can find more information about both products on the Simple Green website, along with LOTS of ideas for how to use them. You can also grab a coupon for $1.75 off (that's a good coupon!) right here.
I know what you're thinking. “Why are you including dirty dishes in a list of spring cleaning quick wins?”
So, here's my philosophy. Every day is spring cleaning day – not just a day or a week sometime in the spring. Anything that needs to be cleaned, big or small, well…it needs to be cleaned.
And you know what I really like to neglect? It's when there's a pot in which I overcooked the food and now it is going to be really hard to wash. So then I let it sit there “to soak”, but when I come back it's not any easier to wash.
I have two choices at this point. 1. I can dig in and just get the job done or 2. I can continue to let it sit there soaking.
The job needs to get done! But scrubbing a pot with burned-on food is not an easy task, and it's not going to be a quick win!
Until…I tried out the Scrub Daddy.
Let me be honest. I kind of groaned when I saw the Scrub Daddy in the box because I was thinking about how much I hate doing dishes. It didn't look like a fun or unique “spring cleaning” task, but it just meant I'd be doing boring old dishes.
But when I made myself try it out, I was like, “Ohhh. I like this thing.”
The Scrub Daddy turned getting that crusty pot off my counter into a spring cleaning quick win!
No joke – this guy doesn't scratch my non-stick pots!! I can bust through that crud in a flash without babying my pots!
Here's how it works: When it's cold it's stiff and hard so you can do tough scrubbing jobs. When it's warm, it gets soft so you can just use it for regular old dish washing.
And here's what else I like – the Scrub Daddy doesn't get all slimy and nasty like regular sponges that you leave sitting in your sink too long. It rinses right off and dries out nicely. You can pop it into the dishwasher if it does need a deeper cleaning.
I received Scrub Daddy's counterpart, Scrub Mommy, too, which has the scrubby part on one side and a more spongy part on the other side.
You can check out the Scrub Daddy (and the Scrub Mommy) right here.
If you're wanting to try to accomplish a few quick wins throughout the day, here are more things you can do:
I've noticed a trend lately when it comes to Bible journaling. People are drawing and coloring in their Bible, purchasing fancy Bible coloring books, or searching online for printable Bible journals.
I'm not saying these things are wrong, but be careful that you do not get swept up into doing these things just because they are trendy or because a blogger somewhere created a printable worksheet for you to fill in, so that must be how you're “supposed” to do Bible journaling.
Bible artwork or spiritual journal worksheets printed from the internet can be helpful if that's truly how you learn and solidify in your heart what God is teaching you.
But you also need to be careful that those things don't end up watering down your spiritual life or becoming a superficial replacement for the Holy Spirit's work in your heart.
I fear that in some cases, Bible journaling becomes a replacement for studying God's Word. I have no problem whatsoever with someone using art as an expression of worship or as a way to meditate on Scripture. Some of the Scripture illustrations I have seen online are absolutely beautiful. But when Bible journaling begins stealing your time from really digging into the Word and studying it in-depth, then it is time to reconsider its worth.
For myself, I do not do Bible journaling because I would get pretty much nothing out of it spiritually. I am not artistically talented whatsoever, and for that reason I don't really enjoy it. If I tried to draw illustrations of the verses in the Bible, I would not be thinking about the verse one bit. I would be concentrating on coloring in the lines, not meditating on whatever verse I was trying to color. If I tried to strengthen my spiritual walk in this way, it would be like eating a package of Oreos and hoping that it would improve my physical health.
Similarly, if I were to print a spiritual journal worksheet from the internet and try to fill it out, the questions on it might not contain whatever the Holy Spirit had been teaching me. I would be doing myself a great disservice by ignoring what he wanted me to meditate on and forcing myself to meditate on something completely different.
In a day when “Bible journaling” seems to be synonymous with creating cute illustrations in your Bible or writing on pre-made worksheets, remember that it doesn't have to be that way — and it shouldn't if it's not truly strengthening your relationship with the Lord.
Rather than spending my time creating colorful illustrations (again, not wrong, just be careful!) I keep a simple spiritual journal with a notebook and pen.
It serves as a record of my walk with the Lord and it helps me delve deeper into God's Word.
To start a spiritual journal, all you need is a notebook and a pen.
Inside, you can write down things like:
Whatever is on your heart, simply write it down! There is not a right way and a wrong way to keep a spiritual journal. (That means that if art is an effective way for you to record your thoughts, go for it!)
When you keep a spiritual journal, you are creating a record of your walk with God.
When he teaches you something through his word, it is much easier to remember it if you write it down.
When he answers specific prayers, you will have a record of his power in your life. Over time, you learn to trust him more because you can remember the goodness and power he has displayed on your behalf in the past.
When you're feeling discouraged, reading your spiritual journal will remind you of all that God has done for you and for your family.
You'll be reminded of spiritual growth and encouraged to continue drawing even closer to God.
And one of the biggest benefits of spiritual journaling I have found in my own life is that it draws out the thoughts I couldn't quite seem to form inside my head. Maybe I've felt uneasy or burdened and didn't quite know why. Writing down what I'm feeling helps me to gain clarity as to what it is that's troubling me. Then I can search the Scriptures and pray more specifically about my problems. Sometimes God gives me the solution right away. The answer is often Scriptures I already knew well, but before I wrote down my thoughts I was unable to see the problem clearly enough to apply them. Sometimes I see a need that I should add to my long-term prayer list and begin praying fervently about it and waiting on God to answer specifically.
Would you like to get into the habit of keeping a spiritual journal? Why not join me for a 7 day challenge? You'll receive daily emails with tips and encouragement for recording your walk with God.
No coloring sheets, no pre-written prompts, no fill-in-the-blanks.
This will be just you and God.
Maybe you've never tried keeping a spiritual journal before. Maybe you've kept one in the past and gotten out of the habit in the midst of life's busyness.Jumpstart your habit by joining the challenge below!