What I Learned | Spring 2018

IF: Gathering. So much incredible stuff came out of the 2018 IF: Gathering! IF: Gathering is a women's conference with lots of speakers. The theme this year was fanning the flame of faith and building a life that needs God, not being comfortable.

Live an upside-down life. "The Kingdom of Heaven is always opposite of the kingdom of the world." - Rebekah Lyons

Running my race. Christine Caine was one of the many speakers at IF 2018 and her message was on endurance. She gives a very similar sermon in this video here and I highly recommend watching it! She spoke about building endurance and running our race. How if we try to escape every high pressure situation, we wont be able to build that endurance and carry the baton of faith that is being passed to our generation. She then said this: "We are going to miss our own race because we are too busy scrolling through everyone else's on social media. Don't covet someone else's race."

Not being a spectator. Another thing from Christine's message was about the difference between being in the game and being a spectator. There are only a few who pay the price to get onto the field but there are thousands who spectate. Every spectator has an opinion. Just like in sports, there are spectators in church life. "Unless you are in the game with me, I am not interested in your opinion of me." - Christine Caine

Worship. "Your praise is a direct correlation of the prison He has pulled you from." - Bianca Olthoff

London. London is big and beautiful and historic, but has the big city feel. It was a blast seeing historic parts of the city and all of the things linked to Royalty, but it wasn't as charming as we thought it would be. Now, the small countryside cities, thats a different story!

Norah likes shoes. Anybody's shoes. She puts them on, takes them off, walks around in them, changes which pair she is wearing. It's adorable, but just about impossible to find matching shoes in our house thanks to Norah the shoe culprit.

Isaiah does not like shoes. Isaiah insists on being barefoot everywhere. I put shoes on him to go somewhere and by the time we get there he has taken them off. Every time he plays outside, he takes his shoes off. I drop him off in childcare and the first thing he does is take his shoes off. He does not like wearing shoes.


Edinburgh, Scotland | 2018

After about 5 days in London, we parted ways with the company and caught a train at King's Cross Station to Edinburgh, Scotland. This was another highlight of the trip. I have never been on a train before, so that was a really cool experience. It was relaxing to put headphones on and take in the countryside. 4 hours later, we pulled into Edinburgh.

I think we fell in love with the city as soon as we stepped off the train. It is so charming. And unfortunately, we only had 2 full days there.

Once we checked into our hotel and got rid of the luggage, we found a tiny pub and walked the city as the sun set.

Our first full day in the city we decided to tour the Edinburgh Castle. But before we headed there, we wanted to grab lunch. Just off of the Royal Mile (a street full of shops and restaurants that links the Holyrood Palace and the Edinburgh Castle) is a street called Victoria Street. If you are a Harry Potter fan, Victoria Street is that street that inspired Diagon Alley. JK Rolling wrote a couple of the HP books in Edinburgh and a lot of the inspiration comes from the city.

After lunch, we headed to the Castle for a tour. Not only is the Castle magnificent, but it gives an incredible view of the city as well. The tour guide gave us so much information, I could go on and on, so I will just share a few things we learned:
  1. St. Margaret's Chapel is in the Castle and it is thee oldest building in Edinburgh, built in 1130. 
  2. The Stone of Destiny, located with the Crown Jewels, is a giant rock that the first King of Scotland (and every king after) was crowned on. Since then, it has also been used for coronations for monarchs of England and Great Britain. They leave it on display in the Castle but will bring it to Westminster Abbey and slide it under the thrown for new coronations.
  3. There is a recreation of the prison that the prisoners of war would have stayed in. Once you walk through the rooms they have additional artifacts from the original prisons. Some of these artifacts include the cell doors, and in them are carvings of names of some of the famous prisoners.
Our last day in Edinburgh we shopped around, met some sweet locals, had good coffee, and soaked in the last day of vacation with no agenda. We highly recommend visiting Edinburgh and the surrounding towns!

London, England | 2018

Recently we had the opportunity to travel with Brenton's company to London. We left on an overnight, 8 hour flight. We did our best to sleep the majority of the flight as to avoid jet lag. Once we landed in London, we had about a 45 minute drive from the airport to our hotel: the Grosvenor House. The hotel was beautiful and very close to a lot of main attractions.

The first full day we were there we explored the Churchill War Rooms. These are the rooms that Winston Churchill and the core of the British Government met in to navigate the Second World War. After the war ended, they put everything into the rooms and locked the doors. A few years later when they decided it would become a museum, they set everything back up as it had been. Almost everything in these rooms are original items and were left as they were during the war. It's incredible, and a little erie, to walk the halls people like Churchill walked.

After we got done there, we walked through one of the many parks in London. We came across a bridge and saw a beautiful view of Buckingham Palace (top photo).

We continued on our walk and that brought us to Piccadilly Circus - this is like London's version of Times Square. We found a cute, tiny, local pub for fish and chips and enjoyed some cider. Then we shopped a little and bought our tickets for the Harry Potter play. We walked back through a park that brought us back to the Buckingham for an up close view. We got some pictures of the guards, the gates, and the fountain in front.

The next day we did a day trip to Windsor Castle. It is about an hour drive from London to Windsor, so we got to see a lot of really beautiful countryside. Once we got there, we only got to take pictures of the grounds. We couldn't take photos inside of the staterooms, but they were incredible. There are old apartments (or staterooms) that were redone after a fire and are used for entertaining. Then there are new apartments, were the Queen lives. She was there that day, but we did not see here. We also went through St George's Chapel, which is where Prince Harry and Megan will be married. Before exiting the Castle, we saw a Changing of the Guards. People swarmed to take photos and videos of it. When they are done they yell, "make way for the Queen's Guards" and do not stop for anyone.

The Castle was beautiful, and the town that wrapped around it was just as charming. We had lunch at a fun pub and did some quick shopping before hopping back on the bus.

We happened to be in London over the weekend, so on Sunday we decided to look up a church. I googled "churches in London" and Hillsong popped up! If you are familiar with Hillsong, this is kind of a big deal ;) We were so excited and decided we needed to make this happen! We found the location and realized it was back in the Piccadilly Circus area. It was the same day we planned to see the Harry Potter play, and that theater was right down the street. We would catch church in the morning and then walk a block to our show!

Hillsong Church was insanely incredible. The message, the worship, the diverse congregation... everything! Definitely one of the coolest parts of the trip.

So after church we headed down the block to the Harry Potter play. This was a 2 part show which meant we showed up at 1 for Part 1, left and went to dinner, and then came back at 6 for Part 2. Both were full shows and it was amazing. They did magic tricks and the acting was very well done. The story line was brilliant, captivating, and heart warming. I highly recommend it!

One of our last nights in London, we had a company dinner at Old Billingsgate Market. They did a Beatles theme with live music and dancing. Billingsgate is located close by the London Bridge so we got some nice photos of the 2 of us.

We had a really nice time in London, but we were ready to move on the part 2 of our trip... Edinburgh, Scotland!


What I Learned | Winter 2017-18

Vulnerability.  I'm learning that even though vulnerability isn't always easy, it's so so worth it. "Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness." -Brené Brown in Daring Greatly.  Also, this: "Vulnerability is about having the courage to speak your mind by revealing your true heart, even though you might be wounded in the process." -Tim Suttle in his book Shrink.

Justin Timberlake's new album "Man of the Woods" is  stinkin' good. There are a couple songs I'm not crazy about, but for the most party it's a really catchy album. I think it is really sweet how much his wife is on the album and how much the lyrics speak to his marriage and family. I really like the songs The Hard Stuff and Young Man. Sauce and Man of the Woods are fun, make you want to get up and dance, songs! I dig it JT, I dig it!

Steal like an artist. I got this book years ago by Austin Kleon called Steal Like an Artist. I revisited this book recently and for different reasons. I am a graphic designer by trade but am now a full-time mom. I see other moms kicking butt and taking names and I admire it (sometimes in a healthy ways, sometimes not). I want to implement things they do but am afraid to because it is "their thing." Kleon shares in this book, "If we're free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to take something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it." I'm learning to collect all of the influences that I admire and remix it into something that fits me and my family.

Norah. I'm learning that Norah LOVES books. She will carry around a book until someone picks her up and reads it to her. She is a smart little girl.

Shame resilience. As mentioned, I am reading Brené Brown's book Daring Greatly. Her research is all about vulnerability and shame. She talks about the concept of shame resilience and what that looks like in the context of our lives. "Shame hangs out in the parking lot of the arena, waiting for us to come out defeated and determined to never take risks. It laughs and says, 'I told you this was a mistake. I knew you weren't (fill in the blank) enough.' Shame resilience is the ability to say, 'This hurts. This is disappointing, maybe even devastating. But success and recognition and approval are not the values that drive me. My value is courage and I was just courageous. You can move on, shame." I'm also learning how much I value courage in myself and in others!

Isaiah is re-earning his title as "monkey". He has started climbing out of his crib which means it is officially time to make the switch to the big boy bed. I am learning what it looks like to negotiate with a 3 year old. I'm also learning how to have a better poker face.

After the fall. Isaiah got a really cute children's book for Christmas called After the Fall. It is the story about how Humpty Dumpty got back up again. I think I cried the first time I read it.

Books. If you haven't caught onto this yet, I have been reading a lot of books. I have a stack about a mile high that I want to read. I also have about 15 in the "save for later" section in my Amazon cart!

Well there you have it. The winter edition of "What I Have Been Learning..."
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