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For those that have been reading my posts since I first left August 28th, I made it back home. I want to thank everyone who was praying for safe travels.  It was a long journey, 25 hours of traveling to be exact. My whole family was waiting for me at the airport to welcome me back into the US, including my dog who gave me a million kisses.

I am filled with mixed emotions. I am sad to leave Granada and I have caught myself crying a couple times when talking about Granada, specifically my host mom. I am also excited to be back with my whole family. It has been a while since all 4 of us have been under the same roof.

There are so many things I miss. My walk to school every morning, my host mom, the friends in my program, the language, and the food.

But there were so many things in the U.S. that I had missed and was excited to come home too. My family. Starbucks. Chipotle. CPC. mexican food. Friends. My mom’s cooking.

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The Essentials

I am not a light packer. I love to use every last space that is available in my bag, whether I need the extra item or not. Packing for Europe came as a challenge for me, but one that I was prepared to take. Over the years I have collected a huge wardrobe, a massive number of accessories (scarves and necklaces primarily :)) I was excited to pack light as it is a way for me to live on less, and truly experience happiness and joy in life, rather than possessions. It feels freeing. So I packed my 1 bag, 1 carry on and 1 backpack this morning, and I still have room! I think the real help was that I only brought 3 scarves and 4 necklaces.

Despite living on less this semester, I made a list of the essentials that were on my list that had to come along in my bag.

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1. Rubbish Boyfriend Shirt from Nordstrom BP. A very comfy shirt for traveling.

2. HydroFlask Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle. The best Christmas present from my sister. Made just a couple miles away from her school in Bend Oregon. The perfect container for ice cold water or a steaming cup of joe. This bottle doesn’t sweat and keeps beverages cold and hot for up to 12 hours.

3. Nikon D3200. My birthday present to myself this year and the device that will capture countless memories and sites during my adventure.

4. Deuter Act Lite 60 +10 SL Pack Women’s. Luggage that you can wear on your back. Skip the wheels and carry it. This pack has been a lifesaver on countless trips

5. Journal. Over the years, I have still yet to find the perfect journal. Sometimes I like lines and sometimes I want blank pages. But regardless a journal is a must for me to document my adventure and a place to keep my museum and train passes.

6. Raw Almonds from Trader Joes. My favorite grocery store and the perfect snack while traveling. Just a quick pick me up of protein until the next meal.

7. The Northface Surge Day Pack. The perfect day pack to fit my camera and lunch. Not to mention a special compartment for my laptop.

8. Grey Maxi Skirt from H&M. A gift from my dear friend Sunee and the perfect, lightweight skirt that goes with anything. Dress it up or down, this skirt will make a regular appearance on the streets in Europe.

9. Black Toms. As a shopper, I don’t normally by for practicality but for this trip I had to buy and pack with practicality in mind. My new black Toms will go with anything and everything plus are very comfortable to walk in.

Studying Abroad is like Freshman Year

My bags aren’t packed yet and I have a never ending to do list, but I leave for Europe in almost 48 hours. I have been waiting for this day for so long, yet somehow it just snuck up on me.

Between spending my summer with family and friends, golfing, and working I haven’t had much time to process the fact that I am leaving home, family, friends, California, and my country for four months. As Spain is finally approaching I have a whirlwind of emotions. I am excited. Excited to meet new people, travel, getting lost in a new world, live in Spain, learn Spanish, and experience new food and culture. But I am also scared. Scared to meet new people, scared of getting lost, getting stolen from, missing home, and fail with learning a new language.

Even as a junior, this chapter makes me feel like a freshman again. I am going to a new place, meeting new people and experiencing something completely different than I have before. As a freshman I was so excited to head to Central College but I was also scared. It’s weird to go through this same experience again but there is also something so refreshing about going somewhere new.

Freshman year was a very humbling experience for me and drew me so much closer to God. He was my ONE constant when everything else was new and different. My prayer as I embark on this new trip is that I would journey with Christ this semester. This is his journey, not my I am delighted to get to journey with Him in a new land.

Rest and Joy in one weekend

This summer has felt like go go go. Between working 40 hours a week, and trying to squeeze every free minute I have catching up with family and friends back home I am utterly exhausted. I decided that this weekend would be different, a time of rest for my soul. The great thing is I didn’t just sit on the couch being lazy all weekend. All I did was fill my weekend with some rest, a lot of ME time, doing things I absolutely love and spending time with some great friends.

This weekend was filled with some of my favorite things: John Mayer. Phillip Phillips. Friendships. Picnics. Breakfast cookies. French Press coffee. Hiking. Baking. Rest. Reading. Proverbs. Incredible Views. Saturday Evening Service. Brunch at La Boulange. Shauna Niquiest. Anthropologie coffee mug. Chocolate. Joy. Rest. Christ.

On Friday I went to the Phillip Phillips and John Mayer concert. I filled this time by getting closer and cuddling with some recent friends (I still can’t believe that these girls are so similar to me just graduated from my rival high school, but God let our paths cross each other), eating a great picnic that we packed, and just watching the stars while listening to some great music.  John Mayer

Although I had a late night out, it was such a chill night that I felt utterly relaxed after a long week.

Despite my late night, I woke up early (well early for a Saturday morning) with a smile on my face. I knew it was going to be a good day and I woke up in a mood ready to BAKE! Everyone in my house was gone for the day so it was just me, the dogs and a quiet house. It was glorious. I started off my morning sipping my French press coffee out of the beautiful mug my best friend gave me from my favorite store, Anthropologie and I just started baking. I made a beautiful breakfast, completely gluten free thanks to my amazing recipe in Bread & Wine by Shauna Niquiest.

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As I sipped my coffee and ate my warm breakfast cookies, I had some quality me time and caught up on some ongoing projects. It was relaxing and accomplishing at the same time.

Later in the afternoon, two wonderful friends stopped by for lunch and more BAKING! We made a beautiful chicken, pear and walnut spinach salad complete with homemade dressing (That was a first for us all) followed by some homemade pretzels. We had some fun, we made a mess, got creative (cream cheese filling cinnamon pretzels), laughed, and cleaned up our huge mess.

The next morning, I woke up early again and went on a 6 mile hike with my best friend. We talked, huffed and puffed our way up the hill, debated turning back, but most importantly made it to the top of the “bench hike”  just in time to watch the fog roll away and see a stunning view. We made our way back in time for breakfast at La Boulange by 10am to study Proverbs together. I am literally falling in love with God’s scripture this summer as I am reading Proverbs with Kirsten. Afterwards Kirsten asked me to give her a tour of Trader Joes because she wants to start shopping there this school year. I literally don’t think she realized how happy she made me with that question. I was so excited to show her the food I eat and how I cook certain things . I don’t know why but the preparation of food gives me so much joy from raw ingredients to a beautiful dish to the unique taste.

This week was so relaxing and it just gave me a burst of energy to start my week off right. After the restful weekend I had I was able to get all my chores done in a JOYFUL mood and even more. I was actually helpful around the house, my car got vacuumed and washed. But most importantly I feel restful as I start a new week.

God created rest and it is such a beautiful thing. He didn’t create us to go go go. There is a reason why we Sabbath and it is a beautiful thing when we can stop and actually spend time with God and ourselves and just appreciate the life He created.

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and

trust is your strength…” Isaiah 20:15

 

Patience

This semester has flown by so far, but in many ways I was utterly exhausted last week. I thought about going on a mission trip, there were endless opportunities to go on an adventure, a new state. But as I sat in the front seat of Mariah’s car on the way to the airport, I took a sigh of relief that I chose to go home instead of a mission trip. I was excited. I was going home and would be bringing two friends along. I could not wait to show them my world and be a host to them as they have been such great hosts to me and welcomed me into their families. I found my seat on the airplane and took out my book. I took a sigh of relief that I had finished my tests and had no homework for the week. I took out a book by Nicholas Sparks excited to spend the next few hours absorbed in a hopelessly romantic novel. As we landed in Denver I took a sigh of huge relief that we chose to take the 6am flight as the snow was coming in and if we were leaving an hour later we would have been delayed by the snow. I sat on the last seat in the plane, just my luck, but my wonderful roommate was in the seat next to me. I spent the next hour laughing with her and basked in our excitement and our plans the week. We landed I smiled excited to see my family and be back in warm weather.

The week was filled with laughter, bonding, San Francisco, road trips, singing (more like screeching), Monterey, beaches, warm weather, beauty, friendships( both reuniting with old friends, meeting new friends, and bonding with my two wonderful college friends), cupcakes, Aquarium, Full House, Bachelor finale party, Bocce Ball, hot tubbing, flirting, delicious and healthy food (well, for the most part), Settlers, Naps!, devotions on Mt. Diablo (ironic, I know), Sideboard hot chocolate, Napa Valley, coffeeshops, Bundtinis, chipotle, hiking, Gracie, sleeping, decisions, clarity, and PATIENCE!

The Lord has blessed me in many ways. He has given me a heart that yearns to take every opportunity that is given to me, to take risks, and to do something that will make a difference in other’s lives. This upcoming summer has been a struggle for me because I feel like my heart and body is pulled in so many directions: Seattle, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Pella and the list goes on. I just need to make a decision. I hate decisions, not because it means saying yes to something but means I have to say no to everything else.

The past few days before I left for spring break were rough for me. I had interviewed for a summer internship with a non-profit organization that I have dreamed about for the past year. They told me that I would hear about a second interview around March 1st. March 1st passed, than the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on. I knew I needed to be patient but all I wanted to know was whether I would be getting a 2nd interview. As I approached spring break, that worry faded I began to find rest in the time at home. While I was having some devotion time on top of Mount Diablo (ironic I know) and reminded the Lord (and myself) that this summer was not mine, but His. I told him that I knew that wherever I would be this summer I knew that it would glorify Him and that I didn’t want to worry about summer plans. The next thing I knew was that I needed to send an email to World Vision. I reminded them how interested I was in their job and that interning for World Vision was my first choice, so I needed to know soon so I would know if I needed to plan other arrangements for the summer. Monday afternoon came and I had an email from World Vision. I was so scared I made Mariah read it. I was asked for a time that would work best for me to interview with a manager from the creative solutions department, an internal ad agency. A dream come true for me.

Last Thursday, I had my 2nd interview with the manager. It went well in so many ways, and this dream began to feel more like a reality. This week, I found myself checking my email by the hour waiting for an email for World Vision. But each time I checked my email I was reminded of the word PATIENCE. I know that the Lordis trying to teach me something in this. It is frustrating sometimes I don’t want to bepatient, but I know that I need to learn this lesson. With that I decided that I need to practice patience and truly give thisinternship to the Lord. I have decided I need to use self-control and live in the moment instead of checking my inbox on the hour for a message from World Vision.ImageImageImageImage

Cold Tangerines

I have spent a good amount of my summer reading. I used to hate reading, but I think that was because I would read books in school that weren’t appealing to me. But now, when I find a good book, I can’t set it down. Sometimes I would rather spend a lazy morning with a coffee and a good book or chose to read instead of hang out with friends. It has been hard for me, because putting a coffee date with my book before friends has never been part of my personality. But it is something that I am learning. It is ok to have some time alone with a book or with my thoughts. I don’t always need to be around people. I believe that our society is always constantly busy, always trying to be doing but we never think or listen. My alone time has been good for me. It has given me a chance to unwind and just listen to God. I have also been learning a lot in just the few books I have been reading. These authors are just so smart. I wish one day God would grant me with enough wisdom that is  worthy to put on paper and people would actually spend money to read my words.
I have read a couple of books this summer, some serious and some just for fun. But here is my summer reading list of books that I suggest to read: Mere Christianity, Brown Like Coffee, Love Does, and Cold Tangerines.
I just finished reading Cold Tangerines and made me realize that I need to just celebrate everyday life.
“That’s what I want my life to be, like a well-loved gift. I think life, just life, just breathing in and out, is a great gift. God gives us something amazing when he gives us life, and I want to live with gratitude.  want to live in a way that shows how much I appreciate the gift. If life were a swear, I would wear it every day. I wouldn’t save it or keep it for a special occasion. I would find every opportunity to war that sweater, and Id wear it proudly, shamelessly, of days on end… I wasted a lot of time wishing I was different. I didn’t love the gift of life because I was too busy being angry about the life I was given. I wanted it to be different. But bing angry didn’t change those things. It just wasted time. I can’t take away the things that have happened to you and me, but what we have, maybe as a reward for getting through all the other days, is today. Today is a gift. And if we have tomorrow, tomorrow will be a gift” (Niequist 232).
I pray that I would live my life like my favorite sweater. Each day is a gift from God, and I need to live accordingly. So today, I have decided to enjoy today because it is a gift. I went to coffee with a friend and now going on a hike with a friend. I could be angry because my summer is almost over and complain because I have worked long hours. But instead, I am choosing to find the joy in each day. I don’t need some big extravagant plans to enjoy life.  I am choosing to enjoy ordinary, everyday  life.

40 Days of Preparation

Yesterday marked forty days until classes start again. My intervarsity leader, Kodi, has encouraged me to spend these last days in preparation for the coming year. As Jesus spent forty days with his disciples preparing them for the start of their ministry I want to spend the last 40 days of my summer praying, fasting, and reading the word in preparation for the Fall.

“. . . Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:7-10 ESV).

Paul compares our striving for godliness to the training of an athlete; it is hard work and you practice daily. You stop, and you get “out of shape.” In order to prepare for the Fall and begin praying for the campus, first I need to focus on myself: my heart, mind, soul, and body. I need to be prepared before I can focus on my campus.

“Heavenly Father, would your Holy Spirit come and strengthen me, encourage me, and challenge me to be disciplined during these 40 days. Like an athlete, help me to exercise and strengthen heart, mind, soul, and body for your work on campus this year. When it’s hard and I am tired, give me endurance and perseverance. Lord, come and guard my heart from all the emotions and desires for things that lead to death, and instead allow me to desire you and have a heart of compassion for others Amen!”

God’s Humor

I think God has a strong sense of humor. After all, we are created in God’s image and he created humor and laughter. I believe He gets a chuckle or two with us humans every so often. I am a clutz and say say the silliest, most ridiculous things sometimes. See those are humorous to humans, but the chuckles God has is when us humans think we can find the answer ourselves.
I am sure God finds great humor with me as I am the queen at being independent and working hard and endlessly to figure out a question by myself. I always try to know the right answer and if I don’t surely I just make it up to appear all knowing.
I believe God places us insinuations for us to grow and strengthen our faith. Instead, I fail miserably by trying to figure out the answer all by myself rather than having faith in God.
Today, God got a great chuckle through my decisions. The night before, I had small group with a bunch of lovely junior girls. One of the girls had a question about Luke 14:16. Does being a disciple of the Lord really mean we must hate our own parents?
At the time, I did a good job working on the idea that I don’t always know the answer. I told her I would look into the verse more deeply and get back to her during the week.
So naturally, I decided to figure to what God’s answer to this question was on my own. I sat down this morning at starbucks with a latte in one hand and my Bible in the other. I was ready to dive into the Bible to figure out the answer for one of the girls. I started using reference material and the Internet to figure out this answer. Obviously, this is all great stuff for research. But looking back I realize I missed out on one important piece. After spending an hour researching, I figured out a solid answer that would be acceptable to share to the girls. I then continued my time by continuing in my study of Hebrews.
Now this is where God got a laugh at me. Normally during my time with the Lord I begin in prayer and silence. I ask God to reveal to me what He wants to teach me and I will obey. Then, I read my devotion, My Upmost For His Highest, as a way to start me off into the scripture. But this time, I forgot to ask the Lord to teach me and waited to read my devotion until the end of my time with the Lord.
The devotion for today was on Luke 14: 16. That’s right, the same verse that I spent an hour studying with reference material. My hours work was summarized in the two small paragraphs in the book. My lack of patience caused me to waste valuable time with the Lord and was a lot of extra work on my part. I think God through in the devotion today just for a good laugh. He wanted to remind me that I can’t do life alone, that I need to focus on Him and rely on Him fully. I need to stop wasting my time pretending like I know the answer or that I can find the answer. Instead, I need to come to Him in prayer and ask Him for guidance.
Even though this was a huge lesson for me to learn this week. I am grateful that God revealed it to me in a humorous way rather than harsh discipline.

Sideboard Talks

One of my favorite moments in life is fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Tonight was spectacular. I went to Sideboard with Allison and we did a study on the book of Titus. My own words cannot describe how powerful Titus is so I want to quote some portions of this book:
“It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly parsons and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” Titus 2:12-14 “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our savior, so that, having been justified by big grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable of everyone” Titus 3:4-8
Seriously, we did absolutely nothing, it is only through God’s grace that we may experience eternal life with him. We cannot be talking the talk without walking the walk. My actions must correlate with what I believe. I need to be doing what is good and godly, it is part of my devotion to Christ. I need to live in a way that no one can despise my faith but rather run to me and want to learn more about my faith so that they two can experience the same life. My life needs to be living for God, anything else is selfish, sinful, and not part of God’s purpose.