How to Stay on Vacation All Year Long

This summer, my husband and I had a stay-cation. We slept late, had long porch parties, and slowed down. I loved stay-cation so much, I didn’t want our simple way of living to end. 

On Friday, we drove to Blue Ridge, Georgia to Mercier Orchards.

I’d brought a stack of books and my journal. “Do you have room for your feet?” Rick said.

“I’m fine.”

Reading was a big part of my stay-cation, and who knows? I might be inspired to write in the car.

Two hours later, we entered Blue Ridge.

“It’s so pretty up here. Wish we could make today last longer.” I decided to jot down every detail so I wouldn’t forget the beauty. I opened my journal. Grabbed a pen.

Instead, an unexpected prayer rose. I began writing. Didn’t stop to edit.


Thank You for stay-cation.

For being in the car with a man I’ve loved for 40 years!

40 years!

Thank You for plenty of books at my feet. 

I glanced at Rick’s left hand.

His hands–how hard he works–for all the wrenches he’s turned so I can write. 

We stopped at Cheeseburger Bobby’s.

Incredible cheeseburgers, but their fries aren’t gluten-free, and I have Celiac.

Rick ran next door to Chick-fil-A. They have GF fries. 🙂

Thank You for Chick-fil-A fries.

For a husband who’ll get them for me.

Then on to Mercier’s.

When we got there, we sat in the car for a minute, in awe of the mountains and deep valleys.

Thank You for mountains and valleys.

Family problems entered my thoughts.

I paused.

Stopped writing.

A new kind of prayer came.

Thank You for the problems.

For things I can’t change. 

For me having Celiac

Mercier’s is an apple orchard, but they didn’t have many apples.

It was July.

Not October.

Disappointment tried to worm its way in.

Then we spotted summer fruit. 🙂

Thank You for peaches and blackberries and blueberries! 

And fudge.

And kettle corn!

And cider!

 And jelly!

We filled our cart.

And I filled my heart.

Maybe the secret to staying on vacation all year long is to keep saying, “Thank-You, Lord.” For everything.  

Don’t you love vacation relaxation?

What are your va-cay plans?

P.S. Apple pie wasn’t GF, but the fudge was! 🙂

To find out why Rick wears a nine-dollar wedding ring, click here.
































  1. You had me at wanting vacation to last all year long…I think you’ve found the key m friend xo

    • Julie says:

      I smiled when your comment popped up first, Robin…for one thing, it reminded me of texting you on Friday and wishing y’all could’ve been with us.

      Love you, and am praying my vacation prayer this morning. Thank You Lord for…..

  2. Julie Gilleand says:

    Imagine way back when, when there was no such thing as pictures on a cell phone (or cell phones for that matter), or Facebook, email, etc. How did we get through each day or our lives? I think about that often. How tied we are to documenting everything we do or say instead of just doing and saying, period. I like to journal too and always want to document our vacations or other life events and I think it’s a good thing to do. But I guess the thing to think about is — balance. Moderation. I remember taking our big, bulky camcorder on vacation with us and taking it everywhere we went. I mean the carrying case for this thing was like a suitcase. Back in the 90’s. Although it’s wonderful to have those “home” movies now for memories, it did hamper our just enjoying the trip, unhampered by lugging that big old thing around and regarging the huge battery each night too — and changing out VHS tapes throughout the day! Plus we were looking at everything thru a camera lense instead of with our own eyes. Still — another year, I decided we wouldn’t mess with all that and just go enjoy the trip. We did enjoy it more, but of course we don’t have the memories on film now to rewatch which grieves me also. So there is a fine balance I think.

    The last couple of summer vacations I tried hard to document everything in my journal. Never finished. It got so behind I lost interest in continuing to document it. Same thing the next summer. I have a little, just not a lot. The best journaling I did was after hiking out to a lighthouse in the heat of the day for 2 miles, I needed to sit and rest before attempting to climb that imposing tower, much less hike 2 miles back, so I sat down near the shore of Lake Michigan and got out my journal, which of course I’d carried along on that long haul! The rest, the sound of the waves, the breeze and the beauty was restoring to me. What I journaled during that time was not filled with merely a log of events as they played out, but telling about what I saw and felt of God in the experience. That was the best journaling I did that whole trip. It is what mattered most.

    I love how your journaling, too, switched over to thoughts toward God — thankfulness for what was around you, no matter what it was. Turning your thoughts upward and having that reflected in your writing. I started journaling in 1994, being nudged by God to do it. In the first few pages of that old spiral notebook, I tell that it was to be a journal for writing about God things. Things He shows me, things He speaks to me, spiritual lessons learned and prayers. It was never meant to be just a log of daily events. And so over the years, I can always tell by what I journaled how close or distant from the Lord. When I am distant, I log events. When I am close, you can tell my head is in the clouds, my heart and thoughts heavenward. Big difference! Same with my story writing or devotional writing. There’s always something special I feel from God when He is the one doing the writing. When it’s just me, well it lies flat! I can always tell the difference. I wonder if you experience that too.

    Anyway before we had all these electronics (which I love, by the way, in spite of their sometimes interference), we just lived and did. I miss that really. My vacay plans have already come and gone for the most part already this summer. Went up to northern Michigan to see my new grandson, Liam for just a few days. I experienced seeing him with my own eyes (after only having seen his pictures), holding him, feeling him in my arms and hearing his sweet little baby noises. Even being baptized by the spit-up on my shirt, lol, which didn’t bother me a bit and reminded me of when my boys were babies, so long ago now! I also experienced hiking out to another lighthouse, though thankfully a shorter hike! I climbed another one too and saw a view of Lake Huron that I’d never seen. I experience a pontoon boat ride, piloted by Liam’s 87-year-old great-grandpa and had the time of my life! I enjoyed food and fellowship with our extended family and so much more. In only a few days. I am blessed. Now that I’m home I’ve been trying to document it all, of course. It’s like a nervous twitch, isn’t it, the impulse to do that!

    Well I’m rambling, which is what I do, but thank you for your blog this morning and for sharing your summer trip with us and inspiring thankfulness, even for the hard things. I pray the rest of your summer will be just as blessed or even more 🙂

    Leafy Sis-Julie

    • Julie says:

      Leafy….little Liam. He is absolutely beautiful. What a total JOY in your life, I’m sure! I’m just so happy for you, my friend.

      Yeah, it was such a wonderful thing–me planning to write everything down on Friday, then my brain/heart/fingers/brain switched gears and this prayer came. I started praying it again this morning about some things–things I can’t change.

      Love your beautiful memories. Yep. Those were the days. Sometimes I see people’s baby pics and pics of their children and how easy it is to preserve them today, and all my pictures are stuck under my bed in crates. Never finished baby books. 🙂 Oh, well.

      Nervous twitch! Hahah! So true.

      Hugs to you this Thursday morning, my friend.

    • Julie says:

      And Leafy, did you see below what Marci’a said about your beautiful comment?

      • Julie Gilleand says:

        I just did see Marci’s comment. I hadn’t read that far yet! Thanks for letting me know 🙂

        I smiled at your comment about the pictures under your bed because I have a big box full of pictures not in a photo album and the photo albums I did make, the pictures are all falling out! I’ve scanned many into the computer but there are tons more!

        And thanks also for your sweet words about Baby Liam. I miss him so much and need more baby time soon! In this case I’m really glad to get to “visit” him via electronics!

        God bless!

        • Good idea about scanning pics into your computer. I keep thinking I should do that.

          And with Babay Liam, I bet Facetime comes in handy–or Skype, almost like you’re there. Well, not quite, I’m sure, but still wonderful!

  3. Patricia Martin says:

    I am on stay vacation and Julie, it is great.(((: no planning for pit stops, endless packing and unpacking, and sleeping in hotel beds. I can be on a regular schedule and stay vacations are free!!!!!! I love seeing all the tasty food and I am glad that you filled your heart and tummy at the same time. Where can I buy one of your books? Hope you have a great week!

    • Julie says:

      So, you understand stay-cation too, Patricia!!!! Yayyyyyyyyyyyyy! Isn’t it the best?! Hope you find some or make some new GF food. I made some wonderful cupcakes yesterday–homemade icing, recipe on the back of Hershey’s cocoa powder and I used a GF cake mix. Delish!

      My books….keep praying. It’s writing fiction that’s at the center of my heart. For now, it seems God’s plan is for me to blog, write articles, and devotionals. You know I write for Guideposts magazine and Daily Guideposts each year, right?

  4. Anna Haney says:

    Loved this post. I need to journal again. Stay-cataions are something that sometimes we who live a tourist destination tend to forget. We think of staying home for vacation as a reason to get chores done to to veg—not realizing what tremendous beauty is at our own back doors.

    • Julie says:

      Amen, Anna! It was like having new eyes to see–so much beauty I’d been missing!


  5. Aw, I’m glad you had a sweet time, friend. I’m drooling over the pralines in your photo, by the fudge. Looks like pralines, anyway! mmm. An attitude of thankfulness … I’m going to remember that. xo

    • Julie says:

      Ohhhh, pralines. Oh. How. I. Love. Pralines! I didn’t get any, Shelli, because can you stop eating them once you have them?????? They’re so good I want to cry.

      Started out this a.m. by reminding myself to say, “Thank You” about some things I can’t change….


  6. I just LOVE your posts, Julie! I always feel that I’m right there with you. Sometimes it’s because of your description and pictures. Other times it’s that I’m sooooo there with you and your f-e-e-l-i-n-g-s (AND Rick and his feelings). We could be sisters and they could be brothers!

    • Julie says:

      I’m laughing, Vonda. So, our men are related. 🙂

      Love you dearly. Thank you. You’re such an encouragement to sooooo many of us.

  7. I loved how you filled your heart, and how you filled my senses with the beautiful photographs of everything from cider to kettle corn to jelly to peaches. Thank you!

    • Julie says:

      So many treasures inside that one little building, B.J.

      Big Life Lesson, for sure!

      Wish we could go sometime, just wander around and laugh and talk. 🙂

  8. Great as always. So many lessons here. And I love Mercier Orchards, too. They sell great hot sauce btw.

    • Julie says:

      Oh, really? I missed the hot sauce, Chuck. Guess I was drooling over the fudge.

      Yeah, this blog–there were so many things I learned that day–so many truths and takeaways I could have gone with–just prayed my way through writing it and tried to pick one.

      Thank you.

  9. marci says:

    I so like your idea of having a stay-cation. I have been thinking of doing that, and how nice it would be. It is picking a time, How wonderful that you and Rick could do that…as I looked at the picture of your books on the floorboard, – That is what it looks like when we travel.. with stuff all around my feet. And of course we can’t not take our faithful friend, the Journal. I also related to thinking I was going to write about one thing to write something completely different. And to see so much to be grateful for. Yes! What joy there is in that! We cannot take a full vacation at this time, but how I would love some days of stay-cation. Your writing may be just the push I need. Now you have me thinking about that and how to make it happen! I also was glued to what the other Julie G wrote, and the picture she painted.. also relating to the time we grew up in, without Internet, cell phones, etc. We crossed the whole country, even through many miles of desert, all without a cell phone.
    There were good things about that time too. Her thoughts also on journaling, how close to home that is! And how much we learn when we go back and read those entries..– We all seem to be kindred spirits don’t we?

    • Julie says:

      Isn’t that the truth, Marci’a!! And when we were children, somehow we played without having a phone in our pocket. So very different, isn’t it.

      Julie G (we call each other Leafy b/c we love leaves so much) writes so beautifully.

      I have a stack (really a treasure pile) of journals in my office sitting right behind me. Sometimes I open them and just start reading, and all of a sudden I’m a young mother again.

      Let me know about your stay-cation. And really, it can even be going to get an ice cream cone! It’s all in the way we see life.


      • marci says:

        It is nice that you have been faithfully writing journals long enough to have recorded when your children were young. During those years, when I was busy- sadly I did the least writing.
        Yes, Chas and I have done that– just gone for an ice cream cone and drove down beside the lake.
        My stay-cation probably wont get to be days in a row, but any time can be a blessing. Yes, it is all how we see life! I will let you know how it goes.

    • Julie Gilleand says:

      Thanks, Marci. I’m so glad to know my words painted a picture for you that you could relate to. I hope one day after I’m gone, my grandchildren might like reading my journals, mostly so that my faith will speak through those words to them and mean something to them. 🙂 God bless!

      Other “Leafy” Julie G.

      • Love when we can talk back forth like this! Sorta like we’re all sitting on somebody’s porch some where.

        Happy Almost Weekend!

        • Julie Gilleand says:

          Our own little porch party of a different kind!!

          • For sure. And I just say my typo above, BABAY Liam. 🙂 Guess that makes him extra special!!

  10. Brenda Greene says:

    Ah Sweet Julie Girl….Your words about stay-cation conjured up a sweet memory for me.
    It’s the mid-80s, we’re raising two daughters, working 40-hr weeks, money was tight and beach vacations were few and far between. It was a Sunday afternoon, after Church, a home-cooked meal (and the extra hour of clean-up that takes!) so about 3:00 p.m. I was disappointed that we would not have a vacation that summer…funds were tight, girls were going into braces and Hubby insisted that we pay cash for vacations – never charge them. Feeling discouraged, tired, and a tad “pitiful” I drug a chair out into our postage-stamp-sized back yard in our noisy neighborhood and plopped down.
    Our yard was always lush and pretty – thanks to Hubby’s hard work so I sat down with my back to our house, noisy neighborhood, and busy road prepared to have my own little “pity party.” The lot joining ours at the back was overgrown with trees, underbrush, and vines. As I sat their emptying my heart to God, I felt the most incredible peace take over my entire body! Instead of “poor me” words coming forth, I found myself singing praise songs, being quiet, listening to birds and absorbing that tiny bit of nature…it was an incredible “faith marker” (as Larry Blackaby called them in Experiencing God) for me. I must have stayed there a couple of hours but when I walked back into our tiny home, it was to a “different tune.” Since then, whenever life gets overwhelming, I can return to that memory of just how sweet God’s Presence was that afternoon.
    Now…fast forward to Labor Day Weekend 2000; we moved ten miles down the road and from that tiny house, noisy neighborhood, and postage-stamp-sized backyard into the middle of 98 acres and a forest of trees, wildlife, and quiet! We would continue to work five more years and in 2005 retire to this amazing stay-cation! Thank you, Sweet Friend, for continuing to write words that cause us to “remember when” on our walks of faith. You are the best!! Much Love! Brenda

    • Julie says:

      Ohhh, Brenda. I was right there “with you” as I read this. I could just feel you out there sitting in your chair. I’ve been there. Felt all those feelings.

      And the thing is, we really do have to keep seeing the good, refusing negative thoughts, praising, our whole lives, don’t we!

      Thank you. I loved reading this and I’m so thrilled for you with your new world of daily Stay-Cay!

  11. Oh, Julie. I believe so much that if we stay thankful we will always be in that vacation state of mind. It is when we start feeling sorry for ourselves that we long for so much more.

    Growing up we took a lot of day trips and I even have in my adult life. I have found that I enjoyed those just as much as as packing a bag and leaving home for awhile. It refreshed me and when I returned home on the evening of the same day, I felt my home welcoming me with open arms. In fact, I’m never as tired as when traveling on a extended trip.

    I love orchards and your pictures! They took me back to the orchards I would go to with my mom and dad in Connecticut. We would stock up on apples, cider and pies. It was always a fun time.

    I do so look forward to your posts each week. I may not always comment but I do read them.

    Take care, dear friend. xxoo

    • Julie says:

      Eileen, I’ve never been to Connecticut, but I even love the way it sounds.

      I’m so glad I finally landed in the JOY of stay-cation. And you’re so right about the packing/unpacking.

      Do you realize how beautiful the sentence is your wrote about your home welcoming you with “open arms”? I love that. And when I walked in our back door, that’s exactly how I felt. Just another reason to say, “Thank You.”

      Wish we could meet one day. And I bet you’d love Merciers! Your kinda place, for sure!

  12. Patricia Martin says:

    I have always loved reading articles by your mom and you.((: I have read guideposts for years and I have guideposts 2015. I read just the other day in Guideposts Devotional 2015 about your new 4th of July celebration! Just what I needed to hear.((;

  13. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Excitement reigns for my vacation/relaxation plans for next week! Starting Sunday, I will be at one of my two favorite places: Montrose Bible Conference in Montrose, PA. And why? The Montrose Christian Writers Conference!

    Not only is the town quaint and quiet, but the camaraderie and fellowship between everyone there – conferees, instructors, and staff – feed my soul. Sitting on the front porch in their wonderful rocking chairs, chatting with authors and publishers at meals, and re-enforcing once-a-year friendships bring a personal satisfaction not available anywhere else, in my opinion.

    And this year, my daughter Sarah is going with me again! We spent a chunk of her teens and early 20s going together to this place. Then she got married and had other things to do. 😉 Now, as we spent some time yesterday shopping for clothes she needed, I could see the excitement building in her, too.

    May God use this coming week to lift us up and give us the rest we both need. And may we, in turn, bring His peace and joy to those we see. And the writing part? Oh, yeah! Refresh us and put Your message deep in our hearts, so we can share it with the gift of words.

    • Yes, I saw you were going on FB, Cathy, and I’m soooooooooooooooooooo thrilled for you! You’ll have to take lots of pics!! Can’t wait to hear all about it. It’s gonna be incredible, I just know it will!!!

  14. Shelley Elaine says:

    Julie, I am doing a terrible job of commenting this summer, but I am reading and LOVING each and every post!!! The picture of your daughter and granddaughter last wk brought tears to my eyes…and the picture of Rick’s hand this wk did the same. I feel just like that about my husband’s hard working hands…and we LOVE stay cations…quiet, relaxing time together…thank you for sharing…you and Rick are kindred spirits and an inspiration to us…I have loved my log truck driving man for 21 yrs…here’s praying we are ALL blessed with many, many more!

    • Oh, Shelley….what beautiful thoughts and what a beautiful heart you have.

      Thank you, my friend and sister.

      xoxoxo–our men and their hardworking hands….

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