Jitney's Journeys : God's Provision & His Blessings [we've been published!!]

If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook, you already know half of the super exciting announcement... but WE'VE BEEN PUBLISHED!!! 


How It Happened:
It all started in January when JD and I headed up the merchandise table for a youth retreat at church. Through that, we met the amazing Sarah Holmes and (of course) became Facebook friends within a day. She read one of our blog posts that I basically poured my heart into (which I don't do too often so there's no explanation other than God's timing in that) - The Marriage and Transparency Post - and she instantly wrote me a message asking if she could send it to the managing editor of Shattered Magazine. With a tad of hesitation (because I was thinking, "seriously, me?!"), I told her to send it on. Minutes later, Emily (managing editor) wrote me one of the best emails I've ever received in my life with praises about the blog and Jitney's. We totally don't deserve those praises but it definitely rocked my world. :)

So she sent me a few writing prompts and we narrowed it down to a story about our travels (the main story is about an eye-opening event we had in Germany, but you're just going to have to buy a copy to read for yourself). I also feel like I need to throw in here that, through this process, Emily has become one of my dearest friends. And we probably have way too many hysterical (and sometimes life-changing) email threads to prove it (with lots of hashtags). 


But back to the magazine... I saw the cover on the Shattered FB page and look!!


We made it as a cover story!!!!

Ahhhhh!!!
#jitneysjourneys

We also wrote out a list of Tips and Tricks for your summer vacation which was tacked on to the end of our article.



Emily and me at the One Year of Shattered Event

The greatest honor of being published in this particular magazine is because the purpose radiates deep to my core. It's a magazine about Real Life, Real Hope and Real Purpose. 

Shattered isn’t your typical magazine. In fact, it’s much more than a magazine — it’s a Gospel-centered movement of authenticity. Shattered believes that there is a need to break down barriers people have built within and among themselves and seeks to do so by sharing personal stories that point to the hope and power of an identity in Jesus Christ — who redefines lives and shatters the darkness of this broken world. No matter where you’ve come from or where you are, our heart is to remind you that God has a purpose for you as part of His greatest story of all.  -- Shattered

It's about Truth. Vulnerability. Brokenness. Seasons. Trust. 

It's about ugliness and the Beauty that God creates out of it.  

It's about the Gospel.
 - - - 

The magazine is distributed nationally at Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million. You can pick up the summer issue in a couple of weeks....

Which lines up with the other half of the big announcement - Jitney's Journeys will be doing our first GIVEAWAY!!!! We're partnering with Shattered Magazine to give away a bag filled with lots of wonderful Jitney products and TWO subscriptions to Shattered!!! It would be an understatement to say that I am - ridiculously excited - about this. The giveaway will begin May 26th and end May 30th. There will be lots of ways to enter so don't miss out!! 
- - -

And finally, because this tiny moment brought so much joy to my life, that I just can't help but share it with you....

As JD was flipping through the magazine, he saw the photos of this little boy and said, "Hey! Who took these photos of me as a kid?!" 


And he wasn't kidding. This little boy (Andrew) looks identical to JD as a kid. It's his little mini doppleganger. We laughed so hard... but then I read their story. My laughter quickly turned into tears, then my tears turned back into sweet, sweet laughter again. This article is slashes the heart in such a good way. Staci's words are beautifully written.

So, seriously... Go buy the issue or subscribe or get your hands on a copy somehow because God moves like lightning through each story. Be challenged.


Guest Blogger : The Burkes Went To Africa

So we went to Africa.




It seems almost as strange to say that now as it was to declare “Oh my gosh, we’re going to Africa!” during the weeks and months leading up to our trip in February this year.

Traveling to Africa has been on our wish lists for as long as either of us can remember.  We didn’t know how we were going to do it, but both of us were hoping we would make the trip one day. And we promised that neither of us would go without the other, which sounds really sweet but actually has more to do with our ongoing competition about who has visited the most countries in their life. Karen’s ahead by two countries so my opinion is that she shouldn’t get to go anywhere that I haven’t been until I catch up.

As it turned out our opportunity came as a result of our sponsoring two kids from Africa through Compassion International. There is a girl, Foasia, living in Burkina Faso, and a boy, Freeman, living in neighboring Ghana. When we began sponsoring them we didn’t have any particular plans to visit them, but I’m sure the idea was lurking somewhere in the backs of our minds. For years we just wrote letters back and forth and tried to get to know them as best we could through pictures and questions.

Then one day while looking at the website, I noticed that Compassion was putting together a sponsors trip to Burkina Faso. Since we were recent empty nesters we felt like a celebration trip was in order, plus Compassion was handling all of the details and that seemed like a good way to experience our first trip to the continent. So over the next several months we shipped our passports off to get the required visas, started gathering everything we thought we’d need, and as the day approached, started taking our malaria meds.

The trip was everything we could have hoped for! Looking back on it now it’s a blur of first impressions, from the heat and dust of rural Burkina Faso to the humidity and clamor of urban Accra in Ghana. The food, the traffic, and the faces of people carving out a life under conditions I can’t imagine. The quality, integrity, and obvious impact of the Compassion work. So many memories, but the ones that stick out most in my mind are the first meetings with each of our kids. It sounds weird, but my initial response to seeing them for the first time was, “Oh my gosh, they’re real people!” Of course I knew that in my head but on some level it was such a revelation! It was like bumping into a real Hollywood celebrity in line at Home Depot (this actually happened to us once with Tom Selleck). Suddenly this person you’ve only seen in pictures and exchanged letters with for years is actually standing there. It’s weirdly awkward at first. On some levels you have developed a relationship with this person, but it’s suddenly clear that in so many ways you don’t really know them at all.





Our time together with each of them was too short, but it did help fill in some of those blanks. For the first time we actually heard what their voices sounded like and enjoyed the sound of their laughter. We talked with them first-hand about their hopes and dreams, and learned some of their struggles. More than anything we just tried to show them that they matter. One of the most devastating impacts of poverty is the way it labels and eventually convinces people that they are worthless. We wanted our kids to know that they are continually on our hearts and in our prayers. We wanted them to see that they can hope for a brighter future. We wanted them to understand that we are willing to go to great lengths to demonstrate our love for them.

So, we went to Africa.



Dave and Karen Burke live in Huntsville, Alabama. They have three grown children of their own, a grandchild on the way, and currently sponsor four children through Compassion.

DIY Blog Design : How to Pick a Color Palette


Ok. So neither JD nor myself are professional graphic designers, by any means. However, I looove learning how to spice up our blog design on a very consistent basis. 

Anytime JD is away on travel or when we're off traveling somewhere together for his job, I revamp our blog design in some way or another. Designing helps ease my anxiety and makes the time fly by as I wait to have my husband back in my arms.


[Side note: Can you tell from our new design that JD has been out of the country for three weeks!? Needless to say, I really really missed him. I spent the three weeks with my parents crafting, leather-working and helping to set up my mom's booth at The Cotton Depot. It was a beautiful time with our amazing friends and family in Georgia, but I still really missed my husband. He flew in Saturday where I greeted him with this painting at the airport. But more on that another day.]



It would be so much easier if I bought a template from one of the awesome professional designers on Etsy, but I'm a stubborn DIY-gal. 

A very stubborn DIY-gal... And I married a very stubborn DIY-guy. 

We're not stubborn in the sense of close-minded, rather in the sense of being frugal and wanting to do everything with our own hands.

So it only makes sense to try our hands at designing our own blog... right?

Now, let's get to chattin' about a main element of design.

Color.

It's crucial to design.
Absolutely crucial.
So choose wisely.
For our newly revamped blog design, I picked "Sparkled Hues" from Design Seeds.


I wanted a color palette that would incorporate the colors of spring but could possibly carry into summer, if needed. So we have Easter blues as well as a Fourth of July red, white and blue. I love the pop of red but only implement it in smaller places on our blog.

Color schemes are so wonderful and inspiring that I made a Pinterest board here. Color palettes are perfect for anything design... websites, home decor, sewing projects, weddings, you name it!

You want to choose a palette with four to six complementing colors to integrate into your design.

Here's a great tutorial from The Mother Huddle on how to create your own color palette using a photo with PicMonkey.

What do you think of this palette? 
What are your favorite colors to work with?




Viva Las Vegas : Happily Ever After

Have you ever been to Fashion Show Mall in Vegas? 

It's pretty epic. 

A fashion show stage and catwalk literally rise from the ground floor and models strut their stuff. As soon as the show is over, the models step back into their window-shop positions as the stage and catwalk lower back down into the basement of the mall like an elevator. 

Sheer genius.


We celebrated Jackie's birthday at Maggiano's, family style Italian. 

Mmm.


The guys fought against Optimus Prime. 


And we took a lovely family photo in front of a fountain.


Here's a few last Vegas shots for your viewing pleasure...






Thanks Chase and Jackie for letting us stay with you guys. We're super proud of the things y'all are doing in Vegas. God is doing amazing work in and through the two of you. Can't wait to see what else He will do! 


Mom and Dad  - Few kids can say that their parents have been married for 30 years... much less happily married for 30 years. Chase and I have been infinitely blessed by you two. Your kisses in the kitchen and hands intertwined when you walk have not gone unnoticed. In fact, it is the imagery of your entire marriage. Thanks for loving each other wholeheartedly. You have not only stuck with each other through the worst of sickness - but you have fought for each other within in. Thanks for rubbing mom's feet when her neuropathy kicks in full-blast and for driving dad at nighttime because glaucoma has glazed his eyes. Your support of one another is impenetrable. Thanks for remaining faithful in prayer and in the Lord when doctors said mom would only have one more year to live in her darkest time of sickness, and when doctors said dad wouldn't be able to see his daughter's birth because he would be blind by that point. 

Most people must live by faith and not by sight.

But I have seen. 

I have seen that God heals and that He does a mighty work in marriages, in families and in our bodies. Thank you for leaning on Christ and each other in times of trials rather than straying apart from one another. Thank you for setting such a pure example of marriage for Chase and Jackie, and JD and myself. 

We love you.

Here's to 50 more years of being newlyweds. ;)

Viva Las Vegas : Fremont Street


Welcome to downtown Vegas, aka Fremont Street

By 2013, Zappos plans to relocate into the old downtown courthouse. According to Haute Living, "Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, and other investors are pledging approximately $350 million over the next few years to revitalize downtown Last Vegas. The plan is to have a city where you can live, work and play all within walking distance. The money will be used for city improvements such as local education, condos and tech start-up companies." 

How cool is that going to be?!

There is a TON of touristy things and places to go here, but Chase wanted to take us to his favorite hangout: the Tech Library.

Being a fellow techie, JD loved this.


Then we went back to Fremont where we spent a little more than "just a few minutes" waiting on the perfect moment to take a photo of the neon signs covering the sidewalks.


Perfect.


We meandered through the Toy Shack, mainly for JD to get this photo with the Ghostbusters' Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. 

Side Note: When researching the vicious giant marshmallow, I came across this article about why the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is the greatest villain ever. It's worth a quick read. ;)


Did you know you can zip-line through downtown Las Vegas?

Because you can.

The ride lasts about 800 feet. and it's pretty inexpensive too! The line was nasty-long when we were there so we decided against it. However, it looked ridiculously awesome and we would love to hear from someone who has done it before!


We were super thankful for fantastic tour guides and a great host and hostess. 

Chase and Jackie: You two are awesome. Thanks for everything. We love you guys.

Viva Las Vegas : Red Rock Canyon


Not what you would be expecting from Las Vegas, huh?

Located about 15 miles outside of Vegas, Red Rock Canyon will overwhelm your senses. It is a glorious creation of fossilized sand dunes mixed with amber and crimson cliffs, thanks to the iron oxide built up throughout many centuries.


Isn't my mom lovely?


And this guy? He's such a stud. ;)


The stark contrast between the deeply colored rocks and the barren valley truly mesmerizes onlookers.


Chase & Jackie


Dad, Chase & me


JD & me


Happy 30th Anniversary, mom and dad!






Being Intentional in Marriage, especially when physically apart



JD's trip lasted an entire three and a half weeks. That's 24 days. 

I had to come up with something that would make it seem like I was there in spirit. I wanted to do more than just Face Time every day (which was still incredibly refreshing); more than a card every day; and more than just a picture every day.

So I started digging through all of our "love" keepsakes and found this oldie but goodie... 


I sent this little "scrapbook journal" to JD during his summer on a mission trip in Mobile, Ala. It is filled with quotes, lyrics, pictures, random facts about me, encouragement and sweet drawings I tore out of old books. 

And I thought, "Of course. I will make another one of these for him except I'll give him only one page per day, and he can put the journal together himself!!"

So I did.


I made a page for every day we were apart from each other and stuck each one in an envelope. I also included two binder rings and my favorite pen so he could assemble it and write back, when the opportunity arose. 

Glimpse inside...


Day 2 was awesome. I was in the grocery store, unable to Face Time with him, when he got home from work and got settled into the hotel room. (Seven hour time difference is not cool.) In honor of our tradition of putting our hotel slippers on as soon as we get to the room, he sent me some awesome photos of him pouring coffee in his hotel robe and slippers. 

Tears may have started falling down my face in Publix at this moment.




I reminded him every single day, "Don't forget to send a postcard back!!" He must have gotten tired of it by Day 21... But at least he remembered to send one back!!


We love dancing. Like. We. Love. It. We dance in the kitchen, at weddings, in the car, in the pool. You name it. We dance there. Needless to say, I was super bummed at the fact we weren't able to celebrate National Dance Day together on July 27th, so I asked him to dance in the hotel room in honor of me. But he worked 17 hours that day, Face Timed me and fell straight to sleep. I guess we'll just have to celebrate it during Date Night tonight. ;)



I begged JD to journal while he was over there. But he was honest with me and said, "I may journal like the first couple of days, but I'll get burnt out." So, I knew if I made him journal because of the journal we were putting together, he would do it. :) And he did. I made it easy for him though. He only had to "write me back" a few days and I would give him questions so he wouldn't just be saying, "Day was good, but I miss you," every day. It's not like he had much to write about, besides work, anyways. 

For example, the question on the other side of this card was, "Have you done anything cool where you are? See any shows, ride a camel, visit a museum? Write about it on the back. I'm really missing you. I love you sooo much!!"

His response: Cool architecture. Ate baby camel tonjia and Moroccan harrico soup. 

Simple and concise. Obviously, the complete opposite of my style, but that's just one more thing I love about my man. ;)





The finished product. 

It is absolutely crucial to be intentional with one another in marriage, especially when you are physically apart. I hope this gives you a few ideas in case you and your love have the unfortunate event of being separated physically for a while. This journal served as a tool for us to communicate things we might not have been able to otherwise, and gave JD something to look forward to every day!


Welcome Home, My Love...

Maybe you noticed these pictures on your Instagram feed yesterday?


And then you thought, "Wait. Where did he go?!"

Well, I can't tell you his destination but I can tell you that my husband has been in another country for THREE AND A HALF WEEKS!! If you were to compile every single day that we had been apart since dating, prior to this trip... it would still not add up to three and a half weeks - 25 days - that we were away from each other at this one time.

If you're new to our blog, I'll fill you in on a few key details...

  • JD travels for business pretty frequently.
  • Thanks to his gracious company, I am allowed to travel with him unless security/safety issues arise.
  • We choose not to post any real-time information when traveling.

I picked him up from the airport with this tears, bright green sign, tears, a box of Cheddar Jack Cheez-Its, tears, and Mama E's pecan mini muffins. Did I mention a terribly dreadful amount of happy tears!?

So we packed up the car, headed home and unpacked the bags. A few minutes after JD said, "I'm going to try to stay up late so I can get re-adjusted to central time," I found him sweetly sleeping with his new business class eye mask covering his eyes on the couch. Hey, he made it to 5 p.m. That's better than I would do. 


We woke up at 7:30 in the a.m. and started sorting through his foreign treasures...


How cool is this engraved scroll-holder? JD got our last name engraved in English and Arabic. He suggested we write our vows in calligraphy, age the paper and store them in here. ;) He's awesome.


JD received these tiny houses on his KLM flight. All business class passengers get to choose one on each flight. I'm thinking: Christmas Village material. 

Normally they store potpourri in the houses, we think, but they didn't for these because of Customs regulations. 


We love collecting things from other countries, especially when they have English on one side and the country's language on the other. Thus, we have a wonderful collection of Coca-Cola products. JD also brought back some Tabasco, Colman's Mustard, Ketchup and Jelly jars. Yum!

And then he pulled out a grocery bag of... chocolate bars. Snickers, Mars, Kit Kat, and Twix bars all with Arabic writing on the sides. Room service would leave them on his bedside table. It will take us at least a couple of months to finish these off, but I was so glad he saved them and brought them back to share with me!! 

What did we do to celebrate his return??


We shaved his beard off, devoured Five Guys burgers and fries, and...


we counted / rolled the coins from our finally-filled-up coin jar. And we had so. much. fun! Honestly. We sat there, laughing and talking with music playing in the background, simply counting coins. No TV. No distractions. Just spending the day together. Pure bliss. JD decided we should try to find all 50 states for the quarters and a penny for every important date in our lives year.  The only state we couldn't find was Colorado. We're hoping we'll find it eventually though! 

Oh - and we found four "Jesus Christ" coins. "Good For One Dollar In Trade" Haha! We were pumped each time we found one in the jar. Praise the Lord that we do not get into Heaven based on how many Jesus coins we have stashed away in an old coin jar! 


Come back Thursday to see how we remained intentional in our marital encouragement during each other's absence. 

Know the Language of Your Destination... If you don't, you may end up on a Male-Only Beach.

 Written in November 2011
we promise we're trying to catch up on our traveling posts!!

Our Israel adventure is finally coming to an end. Today is Thursday. We head out tomorrow night for New York, Atlanta then finally HOME!! The trip has been pretty taxing on me since I haven't had enough guts to leave the hotel to venture around by myself. But today, I am determined to walk around Tel Aviv solo. We've passed by this awesome frozen yogurt place that has wooden swings hanging from the ceilings. I will simply have to jeopardize my safety in order to satisfy my curiosity. 



FOUND IT!! Isn't this place just too cute?! Only one swing was left by the time I arrived and ordered. After claiming it with authority, I gently asked the guy behind the counter to snap a photo while I smiled. ;) The yogurt was pretty delicious... peanut butter frozen yogurt with hard chocolate topping.


After browsing through the stores, I decided to take the scenic beach route back to the hotel. The stencils made for some pretty cool accents. And how about this studly vintage surfboard? 


There is something about bicycles and the people of Tel Aviv. We figure people just get tired of the absolutely horrendous drivers downtown. The smart ones ride bikes. :) The green bikes reminded us of the Regions bank commercials.


How cool is this hotel? Retro. Vibrant. Distracting in a good way. 


Hundreds of sailboats docked in the port against the stunning sunset.


 This is our sweet Hilton. We were merely a downhill slope from the Mediterranean Sea. 

Speaking of... Friday was our last day. JD had the day off since it was one of Israel's Holy Days. Our one goal for the day was to go swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. We walked down from the hotel straight to the beach, only to find a sign that said, "No swimming today. Surf watersports only." 

Denied.

We walked a little further, only to find either the same signs or a jagged rock terrain engulfed by the sea. Denied. Denied. And denied. 

"JD! Look! Over there... there's a bunch of people swimming in that area!" 

So we walk about 1/4 mile and walk into the open doorway (don't all public beaches have doorways...?) only to be greeted by Jewish men in Speedos yelling at us abruptly in Hebrew.

I did what any smart woman would do... I kept walking to the water. Fortunately, JD has a little brighter wits than myself. He turned around and tried to speak with the men softly, explaining we only speak English.

"NO! NO! NO WOMEN HERE!!! NO WOMEN!!" men surrounded him and yelled.

I was out of my mind humiliated and frustrated by this point. But we turned around and left the beach anyways. Apparently, men and women alternate the days they can swim at that beach. They must not swim at the same time though. 

Once again, completely different cultures.

After a few steps, JD and I burst in laughter. What else can you do in a situation like that? Instead of swimming, we settled for simply dipping our toes in the Mediterranean Sea. And you know what... It was freezing! I guess it was okay that it didn't work out like we had planned. Few things ever do and life seems to end up better that way. :) 



Shalom, Tel Aviv!

Endangered Places: Visit Before It's Too Late

While researching some info on the Dead Sea for our last post, I fell upon this article talking about endangered places... what?!

The list includes:
  • Maldives
  • Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Swiss Alps
  • Everglades National Park in Florida
  • Belize Barrier Reef
  • Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, Indonesia
  • Tibet (or rather the Tibetan language and culture)
  • Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras
  • The Dead Sea in Israel
  • Venice

Venice was the most shocking! Did you know that it is "a man-made wonder made up of 121 islets that are linked by 435 bridges"?

It looks like we better start making a list of places we want to visit before they are gone!! Some places we may get to knock out when we're on a trip for JD's company (i.e. Swiss Alps) but others we're just going to have to check out in our free time.


How about you?
Do you have a list of places you want to visit?
Have you ever been to any of these places?