Saturday, June 29, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Journey of 1000 Gifts

I'm sitting on the grass in Coronado overlooking the city I live in. {I really need to do this more often.} 
In this moment, I choose to be thankful.

- Thankful for the two puppies happily lying on the grass in front of me.
- Thankful for the cool green blanket of grass I'm sitting on.
- Thankful for the crisp blue water, calm in front of me.
- Thankful for cultural music playing in the distance.
- Thankful for the people working hard in the buildings high in front of me.
- Thankful for a couple hours on a Thursday afternoon to sit and be.
- Thankful for black and white frappuccinos and hot dogs with pineapple relish.
- Thankful for the vastness of the ocean to remind me how small I am and how big God is.
- Thankful for what God showed Ann Voskamp and her vulnerability to share with the rest of us through her book, One Thousand Gifts.
- Thankful for the scattered clouds in the sky and the tweets of the birds soaring high through them.
- Thankful for a thankful heart.
- Thankful for the freedom to trust Jesus.
- Thankful for grace when I forget.
- Thankful God's vision is far more perfect than mine.
- Thankful my Savior is not trapped by time. And thankful He knew I needed to be.

In One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp shares about her journey to a heart of gratitude through the initial simple concept of keeping a list of 1000 gifts, great and small, good and bad. In doing this, she learns the concept of thankfulness, among other things. I highly recommend this book. I've started my own list of 1000 gifts. I'm on #70. I keep waiting for the moment my mind will change and I will suddenly be thankful for everything and trust The Lord in each moment.

Then I remember I'm human and my tendency is to doubt and to stress and to be less than thankful for circumstances. 

But moment by moment, I will choose thanks. I will choose gratitude. I will choose to remember the gift of salvation my God has given me so completely.

I don't understand why bad things happen. I make mistakes. I sin and I doubt and I am anything but perfect. And I have a less-than-thankful heart too often. 

But in this moment, I will choose gratitude. I will choose to be thankful. I will choose to trust The Lord and I will choose to remember His gift. 

{ps: I'm blogging from my phone for the first time, using an app called BlogGo, so I have no idea how this will look on a computer or how long this will take to publish!
update: It published kinda weird looking, and it published twice, and it needed wireless to publish, which I didn't have... all that to say, I'm trying to make it look a little better. I'll have to practice with the app more before giving it a good or bad review.}

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Happy birthday Sweetheart

Today is my J's 28th birthday!

I'm so thankful for my buddy.
He's the first one I see in the morning and the last I see before going to sleep.
{well... when I'm not working... #nightshiftproblems}
He's the one who listens to all my stories and who tells me all of his.

I love dreaming with him, playing with him, talking with him,
laughing with him, snuggling with him.
I love him.

{I think this was pretty good for only one capture!}
We got the whole fam together for an Outback extravaganza and dessert at our house.
It was really fun to have our families together!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Body

{disclosure: I am typing this so excitedly and having a hard time articulating this post appropriately... so hopefully this makes sense and isn't just a bundle of jumble. if so, sorry. maybe soon the Lord will show me how to better write the words. for now, it just makes sense in my heart.}

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Ephesians 4:15-16

I think the Lord showed me something tonight.

He created his children to grow into maturity as we grow in Jesus. We grow together. We are one body, even though we are many bodies. He uses each of us in a unique way to bring glory to His kingdom. And within the one body we make up when we join together in worship of our Lord, there are many parts. The body is joined together by every single supporting ligament. Each part of the body has a purpose. Each of us represent a different part of the body as each part does its work, but the body must be one to function as it was created to function.

The Lord God created the body. He created Adam and from Adam he created Eve.

I wonder if when he created Adam, he knew his plan for this creation. This creation was to work together and become one body. As he created one body. He knew the purpose of every part of the body in one person to live. And he knew the purpose he created each part of the body of Christ to be in order to truly live in Christ.

He knew about the body of Christ at the beginning of the world. Because he is all knowing. And he is Christ. The Lord God created the human body when he created Adam and Eve. He knew how he would use the human body to symbolize the body of Christ later. He knew he would use the parts of the body to symbolize the members of the body of Christ doing their respective work. He knew people would understand this symbolism because of how the parts of a body are dependent on one another to function appropriately and effectively.

The body is SO important. I had never thought of how important the body is. To every human life. To Life. And to the kingdom.
And God surpasses my understanding. He is all knowing, all present. He had a master salvation plan before he even began creating.

God seriously blows my mind.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Rekindling Moments: April

So then I missed March, but here are my April moments!
I missed May too... but am working on June and am planning on finishing out this year strong. :)

So, the best of my April days:

1 - reflecting on last week's adventures in Italy through unpacking
2 - hot tea, a blanket, and a season of "Hawthorne." #sicky
3 - God challenging my thinking while studying the Psalms
4 - snuggling with J
5 - feeling better
6 - amazing morning sky
7 - hubby bringing me fro yo before work
8 - seven solid hours of sleep in the middle of a series of shifts
9 - encouraging text from a friend
10 - dinner and life giving conversation with Chris and Katie
11 - knowing without a doubt God is Real in watching my grandpa die with my loved ones
12 - spending the day with mom and grandma
13 - a much needed date night with my love and late night pillow talk
14 - recognizing my need for Jesus
15 - an evening chatting with Grandma and J in Grandma's living room
16 - sweet hugs from my J
17 - spending an entire afternoon listening to my grandma, mom, and uncles reminisce and laugh over stories growing up with Grandpa
18 - lunch and sweet conversation with Jessi
19 - snuggling precious kiddos at work
20 - not having to work my usual Saturday
21 - sweet prayer time lifting up Pastor Garlow upon hearing of the loss of his beloved wife
22 - watching J enjoy getting ready for work
23 - encouraging texts
24 - a meeting with work friends and coffee after a long night
25 - time with Kelli over a much needed hair cut
26 - celebrating Sam's police academy graduation in WV from afar
27 - setting up Grandpa's picture table I put together and decorating the church for Grandpa's service tomorrow - love seeing a vision come together
28 - singing with my sister, even though I cried through it, and a hug from my J after four long days apart
29 - a sliver of normalcy going back to work
30 - two sweet snuggly puppies welcoming me home and sleeping all day with me

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Rekindling Moments: February

Too bad it's June... not March 1st, which is when I had planned to post this! oops!!
I haven't done very well as keeping up with daily moments, but I wanted to post a couple months I had written before I slacked off. So this is out of order which messes with my organizational mind, but I think it's more important to document moments that I can remember. :)

So, here are my February best of my days:

1 - watersliding it with my cute husband and finishing off our underwater camera pics
2 - Dudley's bread galore and a little fudge shack stop on our way to our family cabin retreat, and games galore later that evening
3 - watching Emma, Baker, and Ava run/swim together on our lake walk
4 - listening to Disney classics on the piano in the lobby of our amazing hotel over ice cream cones with my love
5 - conquering not just one, but two 'roller coasters' at California Adventure... hello Goofy's Flight School and Cars ride!! {Goofys... not again. Cars? again :)}
6 - sleeping in and a day off at home with J
7 - celebrating Jessi's birthday with yummy lunch and great conversation
8 - sweet words from my sick hubby
9 - working together with a great group of nurses to care for sick little ones
10 - beautiful new white blooms on our trees outside
11 - nap time with no alarm clock
12 - Italy planning/puppy play date with sis
13 - booking our Florence and Cinque Terre hotels
14 - placed on-call for work and getting to spend valentines night with my best friend... even if i was sick
15 - getting to know new coworkers
16 - meeting and snuggling Brinkley, Mom's precious new golden/lab mix puppy
17 - lounging in the park on a sweet sunday afternoon
18 - working with Lindsey again
19 - a good daytime sleep between shifts on a rainy day
20 - falling asleep with a fire in the fireplace
21 - pay day! 
22 - giving Grandpa a hug ... time with Mom, Grandma, and Brinkley ... and an affirming conversation and walk with the pups and Katie through Balboa Park on a crisp sunshiney day
23 - coffee on the balcony with Carly and the pups
24 - church after work
25 - worship music in the car
26 - funny work conversations 
27 - reading an email about my mother in law battling a raccoon at Grandmama's house
28 - last night of work before a weekend off

Italia: Day 4 - Florence Adventures [hiking, cooking, haggling]

{heads up and half-apology: this blog is way too long. but i didn't wanna split this day!}

Wednesday was our second and last full day in Florence. And we sure made the most of it!
Today at 10, we were taking a cooking class by a gourmet Italian chef!

Before our cooking class, we decided we were going to go shopping at the market. 
But then we got to the market, and turns out they weren't open yet.
So we made the spur of the moment decision to take our two hours and hike to the Piazzale Michelangelo.

[this is the street right by our b&b, but this is what a lot of streets looked like :)]

We of course started off the morning with two caffe lattes and pastries to go.
The whole 'to-go' thing is a totally American thing. And so is the whole 'coffee shop' thing.

Here's what Italians do. 
Find a coffee/espresso shop. 
Stand at the bar. Order {strong} espresso drink.
Drink said espresso drink {served in the equivalent of a Starbucks 'short' cup}.
Leave cup and continue on your way.

Fortunately {?} Americans frequent the city, so they are familiar with our concept of taking coffee and actually savoring the coffee. So they gave us two cute little paper cups. Carly actually fits in well. Turns out she drinks coffee in like three sips. I on the other hand, take forever to drink coffee. I like to enjoy it and make it last, I say. Turns out it was kinda difficult to carry and drink hot coffee while walking and reading a map, so we both ended up drinking it fairly quickly. It was sure tasty though!

Then we continued along through the heart of the city and across the Arno River and up the hill.

These stairs were at the end of a 20 minute hill. They went on forever.

But the view at the top was beyond worth it. God is so stinking awesome!! We were so excited because this morning we had the best weather of our entire trip, so we could actually see the whole city.

 I love my sister so much!

 I wanted to hike up just a little further to this beautiful little church. So I did. :)

And then I took a picture of Carly taking a picture. :)

It was about this time that we realized we better start walking back if we were gonna make it to our cooking class. I think it was like 9:15. And it takes like 45 minutes to get up here. So we started walking back. Such a fun morning and one of my favorite parts of Florence. Definitely.

 We were excited to find the apartment that my friend, Natalie Taylor, lived in back when she lived in Florence. {because you know, it's the cool thing to do :)}
We walked back along the river and then took a different bridge across to try to see some new things.

like these cute shutter windows and rooftop terraces on so many of their buildings,
and the Uffizi Gallery. This is as close as we got. But I was glad we at least saw it!
and these pretty horses. We were so bummed we didn't have a chance to take the horse-drawn carriage!

Oh... I forgot to mention I forgot my phone in our room. {of course I forgot something} Which I had to have to take pictures at our cooking class. So by this point we are practically running back to get it. Carly is not happy with me. It is like 9:45 and I'm saying "oh we'll make it! don't worry" ... knowing full well we are totally gonna be late but I needed my phone! So we run back, I find it, and we head back to the center of town. We arrived five minutes late, and I was pretty impressed with us! Besides, we're on vacation! What is time! Carly didn't really feel that way, and neither did Chef Giovanni.

And so begins the story of the cooking class. Da Da Da.

 So we walk up to the place where we were meeting and the chef is ticked. I am of course oblivious to this. Carly is all quiet and knows he's mad we were late for his class. As soon as we got there, we all started walking {like 20 of us... oops! ah well, we paid for the thing.} to the central market to get food and have a little food tasting. Awesome food tasting! But on the way, Chef Giovanni takes off into some random hotel. So now Chef Davide is leading us. So Carly goes and buddies up to him in the front of the line and they bond while I'm chatting with my new Canadian friend. 

A couple pictures of our tasting in the market...
 cutest and yummiest mini apple juice I got!

After about 1-2 hours, we head to the cooking school with our supplies to cook with. Here, we meet up with Chef Giovanni. So he's really quiet, just says "put your stuff down and pick a spot around the table. Wash your hands." We follow directions and then pull up spots around the cooking table. Well turns out Carly picked Chef Giovanni's spot. So Davide whispers to her, umm thats for the chef, slide over. So Carly ends up next to Giovanni. 

Long story short [because I'll lose all three of my followers if I went through every detail of it]... it started really rough. We were both like, what the heck is his deal! We paid for this class and he's all mad at us! Carly took the role of class clown/smarty pants and talked right back to him. And this is how the first 30-60 minutes went.. awkward exchanges of conversation and Carly slowly loosening up the class and making people laugh. And pretty soon, Chef Giovanni and Carly are best buddies, he's in his element cooking {and he is SO good at it!}, we make some amazing food, and Carly wins "worst chef" award, which actually means "best chef." It ended up being a totally memorable six hours and we made the best food I've ever eaten. Just goes to show you can't judge a book by it's cover. :)

My instagram posts tell the story the best. 

We made tiramisu [notice top left photo... this was Carly mad at Giovanni after he gave her a hard time about whipping the eggs and some other things]... 

homemade pasta (tagliatelle, ribollita, and ravioli)...

bolognese sauce and butter and green sage sauce... 

and bruschetta.

Our finished dishes!

Award time! He ended up liking me, not because I can cook [because he said I wasn't very good at it] because I'm a NICU nurse [which he said he betted I was great at]. He just had a baby. We bonded. :)

He liked Carly because she's a good cook, she's hilarious and she gave him a taste of his own medicine. He told her at the end when it was just us, 'this class would have been so boring without you. I'm so glad you were here!' And she got her "worst student" personalization note.

Our awards! Unfortunately, I left them somewhere in Florence. 
Still a sore subject with my sister. 
So this is our memory. :)

After our class/meal ended, it was like 4pm. We did quite a bit of shopping/haggling [which initially drove Carly crazy until she jumped on board and started haggling with me!] and I bought a lovely orange suitcase to bring our extra goods home in. Can't miss me!

Wednesday was a fun day. We both got to be ourselves and felt like we were finally getting the hang of Florence. We walked the streets at night like pros and had a ton of fun. I'm telling stories that aren't super flowery and sweet because they are funny and give a great picture of the reality of our trip. But really, we made such great memories. And the best part was, we were together!!