More Jen Hatmaker and why I drove to Buda, TX Labor Day weekend

In September, the Launch Team for Jen’s book For the Love attended a party at Jen’s house. Yep, that same Big Family Renovation you may have seen on HGTV. Shazam!

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Emphasis on family. And community. And loving people because Jesus loves people.


Earlier in the day, Jen’s husband Brandon did what all great husbands do on party days. Yard work.


All things bright and beautiful, a picture-perfect Texas evening set the scene.

Jen showed up looking like Lorelai from “Gilmore Girls,” all boots and cut-offs––cute as could be.

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My Taste of Italy Adventure

“We came to Rome because we’d always regret it if we didn’t, because every timidity eventually turns into regret.” Anthony Doerr, Four Seasons in Rome


I always say, A book is only as good as it is timely. This one was perfect.


Inside the Vatican, this ceiling is completely flat. Trick of the eye, or Trompe l’oeil as the French call it. This kind of painting appears all over Italy, turning flat surfaces into fake frescoes or scenes that appear 3-D.

All roads lead to Rome

Travel is about experience and personal experience is hard to share. Experiences, I have found, are not transferable.

Still, the traveler seeks to share his or hers anyway.

My adventure started and ended in Rome, only it’s not fair to say I actually saw Rome the first time through simply because I had to go through Rome in order to arrive at my initial destination.

But I wound up back in Rome before flying home. Read more

Returning from Italy made easier

“When I was at home, I was in a better place. But travelers must be content.”                      

Shakespeare, As You Like It


5 indispensables: Travelpro luggage, Magellan rain jacket, Mosey cross-body purse, a good travel umbrella, and Salomon tennis shoes (not pictured here)

Before I left home, I was already thinking about my return trip. For that, I planned to check the 21″ Travelpro carry-on (base luggage).

Previously, I made a big deal about the luggage I took to Italy. Originally I thought only of a smaller carry-on item I could attach to my to my wheeled suitcase, preferably placed over the telescoping handle as opposed to a backpack or say, a Vera Bradley tote. VB sells a tote with the slip over the handle (trolley) feature and as a personal item, this will hold a ton of stuff. But then it’s heavy.

Plus, my cross-body purse, a jacket and miscellaneous items that I placed in a Baggu and the smaller carry on item needed to meet the 2 item limit imposed by AA. (That’s American Airlines for you. Other carriers have different stipulations, but AA gate-checkers are getting crankier and crankier about carry-on limits. And some people carry on enormous bags, but that may have something to do with AA’s charges for checked luggage.) Can’t we all just get along?

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Packing for a 19-day Trip to Italy

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Termini rail station in Rome where I waited on platform 6 for the train to Firenze (Florence), which would stop in Orvieto,  an hour and 15 minutes north of Rome.

Luggage:  Pack only what you can lug.

The best decision I made for this trip: Travelpro luggage. The thought “Worth its weight in gold” kept coming to mind. Both pieces are carry-ons and while the smaller of the two does not fit under the aisle seat, it does fit under window seats. A friendly and helpful flight attendant (sometimes an oxymoron) led me to a Business Class overhead bin for storage during the flight to London.

Researching, reading and comparing reviews led me to purchase new luggage even though I have used sturdy 2-wheeled bags in the past. The older luggage is heavy even before packing.

Ahhh! The right suitcase is like a good-fitting pair of shoes. Baby Bear porridge, Just right.
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