What I Learned | Summer 2018

Man oh man, I can't believe it is time for this again! We had a blast this summer traveling, swimming, and spending lots of time with family. I love the summer but I welcome the fall with open arms. Here are some things I learned this summer:

We planted a garden this summer with our friends the Stofferans! This was our first time planting a full garden, but that didn't stop us from going big. We had a pretty good time planning this thing out and getting it all planted. When it all started coming up we had tomatoes, green beans, beets, cucumbers, 5 kinds of squash, peas, and lots and lots of weeds! We managed to get some produce out of it, but I'm not sure we will want to do it again next year.

Eve.  I just finished reading the book Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge. It is all about the heart and mystery of women. I love word studies (which seemed to be a little bit of a theme this summer), so I found chapter 2 of this book very interesting! "When God creates Eve, he calls her ezer kenegdo. ... Hebrew scholar Robert Alter, who has spent years translating the book of Genesis, says that this phrase is 'notoriously difficult to translate.' The various attempts we have in English are 'helper' or 'companion' or the notorious 'help meet'. ... The word ezer is used only twenty other places in the entire Old Testament. And in every other instance the person being described is God himself, when you need him to come through for you desperately. ...  A better translation therefore for ezer would be 'lifesaver'. Kenegdo means alongside, or opposite to, or counterpart." Yes, yes, and yes! Thank you God for creating women to be powerful, lifesaving forces.

"But God,". I did a study on Ephesians with our Empower women's group this summer and in it I learned how the words "but God" are some of the greatest words in the Bible. God shows up and decides to act on our behalf. No one else could have done it, no one else would have done it... but God.

Isaiah loves music. He attempts to sing along when we are in the car to pretty much any song that comes on. It's the cutest thing. He is always a little bit behind, but he gives his best effort!

Everybody, Always. I just adore Bob Goff. If you have read his books, you probably do too. I seriously want to be him when I grow up. I am working towards the end of his newest book Everybody, Always that is all about loving difficult people. He has a chapter about skydiving that is phenomenal. He talks about when our parachute (or our life) gets tangled and we need to cut loose (so we can be a new creation). It might look good for a while, but we won't land well. "It's usually not the initial failure that takes any of us out; it's the bounce. ... The second hit is what follows when things go massively wrong or we fail big, and the people we thought would rush to us create distance instead. They express disapproval or treat us with polite indifference. If we want to be like Jesus, here's our simple and courageous job: Catch people on the bounce. when they mess up, reach out to them with love and acceptance the way Jesus did. When they hit hard, run to them with your arms wide open to hug them even harder."

Gratitude. I have started a gratitude journal after being inspired by a sermon at Church. When I have an attitude of gratitude and live into the love God pours out on me, I can love others better. I write 5 things every night that I am thankful for before I go to bed to help align my heart with this attitude. "When we accept God's overwhelming love for us, then it overflows out of me to others."- Chris Ver Steeg

Norah has a big personality. She tries to cross her eyes but it looks more like an eye roll. Her tantrums look like her laying on the floor in protest. She will point a finger at you when she is bossing you or giving a piece of her mind. Her hair sometimes sticks straight up out of her pony accompanied by her blonde curls in the back. And she has the best, and most contagious, belly laugh in the whole world.


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!

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