Category Archives: Journal

Seriously? 4 years?!?

2009One of my favorite days EVER.

2010Celebrating 1 year in Senegal!

2011Celebrating 2 years on a mountaintop!! (we were actually in Senegal, but didn’t have a chance to really celebrate there this time.)

2012Celebrating 3 years with a Black Sea road trip.

Excited to see what memories this year brings!! I am so thankful for the man that God has given me. He has truly blessed me more than I deserve. I super glad to be doing life with Jeremy Paul.

Hello April!

So, March just completely escaped me! Sorry about that. I’m going to continue the travel theme in April since 1) I basically missed March and 2) I’m going to Vienna in less than two weeks!! So, it’s just fitting. I thought I’d share a youtube channel that I’ve come across that fits perfectly with the travel theme. It is from fawn, which I think has some cool stuff to begin with, but they have a show called Wanderlust that just travels around and gives tips and also shows some highlights and things to do in several different countries and cities. Let me know if you like the channel, what your favorite episode is!!

The second thing I want to do today is share some of my favorite traveling experiences. I’d love to hear yours in the comments section!!

IMG_1266Most Exciting

I think that the most exciting things we have done while traveling was hiking to a canyon by ourselves and crossing a treacherous old wooden bridge over the swirling waters. I don’t know if it was the thrill of being alone in such an amazing place, or the danger of the bridge, but that was a really fun experience.

I also really enjoyed the time that the fire-eater sat on my lap to eat fire in Senegal. Definitely a good memory!!

Oh, and the hot air balloon in Cappadocia!

Most Relaxing

The most relaxing holiday we have had has to have been Thessaloniki/Salonic, Greece. We went last Easter weekend, and we spent some time walking around and visiting places, but the majority of the weekend we sat in cafes and read. The town was really chill and quiet, so we just enjoyed the time without any responsibilities.

IMG_1027Most Awe-Inspiring

This is hard, because we have been many amazing places, and almost everywhere we travel there is at least something that is inspiring! I think my top two are the Coliseum in Rome (LOVED that!!) and the Maroon Bells in CO after the rain and clouds are lifting. (Oh, and Cappadocia was pretty awesome, too!)

Most Fun

This is so hard. We ALWAYS have fun!! Really, I don’t think I can pick, and I don’t think it’s worth just listing all of the places we have traveled to here.

20120715-210030.jpgThe one I most want to revisit

The place I most want to revisit . . . hm, I always want to go back to Senegal, but they caught my heart in a different way than the others because we have interacted with the people there. There are SO many places in the world that I want to go, that it is hard to think of scheduling time to revisit one!! I would like to go back to England and spend a little more time there.

Top 5 dream destinations:

1. Australia
2. Thailand
3. Bora Bora
4. Morocco/Spain – really, I want to see if there are monkeys on the Rock of Gibralter
5. South Africa

What about you?



and never so willingly so.


and never a protest or blow.


and never so undeservedly.


and never so hurriedly.

we waited, we held our breath, we wondered what was meant by His death.
we questioned, we cried, our hope nearly died.
days crawled by
we hid in fear
trembling . . . until


and never so excitedly done.


and never so eternally won.

He emptied Himself, became a man,
He emptied the tomb when he rose again,
He emptied me, in a work of grace,
I am His, I’ll see His face.

Happy Easter, everybody. He is risen . . . He is risen, indeed.

New Beginnings: Cleaning!!

71624_103231003077722_3910936_nMaybe your house is already perfect, but mine is far from it. So, as New Year’s rolled around, one of my resolutions was to get a little more organized in the cleaning department. I had an inkling that I might not be the only one out there who could improve on my cleaning skills, so I decided to ask someone who I really respect in regards to keeping a clean house. Meet my mom!! There have been times in our family where we might possibly have made fun of my mom for cleaning all the time, but when it comes down to it, she is really a great example of keeping a clean home and why it is important. I asked my mom if she would be willing to answer some questions on here, and she agreed! So, today, I get to share with you her ideas about cleaning!! Enjoy!

1. Why do you think it is important to keep a clean home? 

I think that my husband deserves to come home to an orderly and clean home after a hard day at work. I believe that it sets an example for my children and I believe that I should always be ready in case someone should stop over or someone would need a place to stay.  Don’t be afraid to include children in the cleaning.  You can make cleaning fun.

2. Do you follow a schedule in your cleaning?

No, I just try to do a little each day so that you aren’t overwhelmed on cleaning day or when you have to get ready for guests. 

3. What is your best advice for keeping a clean home? 

To clean up as you go.  It only takes a few minutes to put something away when you are through with it.  Do things that make your home look tidy like making your bed as soon as you get up.  A bedroom looks much neater if the bed is made.  Hang your clothes up or put them in the hamper as soon as you take them off and teach your children to do the same thing.  If you are baking, put things away and dirty dishes in the sink as you go along. 

4. How do you manage your time with full-time work, cooking, and keeping the home? 

I try to take a couple of minutes before I leave for work to make sure everything is put away off the kitchen counters like dishes that I left to dry the evening before.  My bed is always made when I leave for work.  That means I don’t feel overwhelmed as soon as I get home.  I make dinner and clean up all that I can before we eat.  If I have pans, knives, cutting board, etc., I wash all that while dinner is cooking/baking.  I clean up right away after dinner.  I try to keep the laundry caught up so it doesn’t become a daunting task.  I try to complete some cleaning each day. 

5. What is the biggest challenge for you with house-keeping (either cooking and/or cleaning)?

My biggest challenge is getting ready for company and still allowing my family to live their lives in the house.

6. What are your favorite products or resources for keeping a clean home? 

A good vaccuum cleaner with attachments.
A duster/webber with a long handle.
A good stringy mop and large bucket.
Pine Sol – it makes the house smell clean.
Murphy’s dusting spray.
Soft Scrub.
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  (these are wonderful!)

7. For people who are hoping to improve their cleaning habits this year, what are three small steps that you would suggest that they take? 

  1. Take the extra minute to do the small tasks that make your house look neater. 
  2. Make a list of all the cleaning that you need to do in a week and make sure you check something off each day.
  3. If you are a TV watcher, use the commercials to get some small cleaning task done.

What is your best tip for New Year’s cleaning? Leave it in the comments below!!

New Beginnings: Change? What’s the Point?

I’ve decided that one way to pursue some of my goals for this blog would best be achieved by blogging on themes each month. I’m pretty excited about it!! I’m going to start off in January with the theme: New Beginnings. My goal is to include several of my own posts, some creative writing, some interviews with other bloggers, and some resources for you to check out. If you’d like to join along and link up your blog or if you’d like to be part of a blogger interview, contact me!


Change, What’s the Point?

Well, it’s January. I know, from a brief perusal of facebook, twitter, youtube, and the rest of the world wide web, that I’m not the only one who is excited and motivated tochange some things. I’m not the only one to make goals for various areas of my life. I also know that I’m not the only who has already or will soon break some of those goals. How many resolutions have you ever really kept the whole year? I’m not saying that I never keep any resolutions, or that no one does. Rather, we usually find a way to keep one or two, and sooner or later the others fall by the wayside. So, why do we try? Why do we play this game every year? Is it worth setting goals over and over? I think yes, but why?

Let me start with a challenge. When making goals for your life, don’t just look at the things that you aren’t happy with, the things that you want to change. Take a minute to notice the things that you have changed, the areas that you have improved in as well. At times, New Years can become both thrilling, but also disappointing because you notice yourself making all of the same resolutions over again. Be sure to be thankful for the areas of growth and encouraged that you really can make changes.

So, why change? Well, we are human. We aren’t perfect, we haven’t arrived, and we won’t in this lifetime. But, that isn’t an excuse to sit around and let ourselves believe that just because we cannot be perfect, we shouldn’t try to improve in areas that are important to us. Isn’t there a feeling of exhilaration when you actually do start to notice progress in your life towards a goal? Isn’t it exciting? Why not work towards that? We need to also realize that God has given us this life, and everything that we have in it, and we have a responsibility to use this life and these gifts for His glory. When you frame your life by God’s story, then it makes sense why we need to be healthy, why we should be smart with our finances, and why we should strive towards better habits.

Another important factor as to why we should work towards change is that one of the unique factors of being human is that God has given us the capacity to dream and be creative. When God created us in His image, creativity was one of the essences that He gave to us that He did not give to every creature. If God gave that willingly to us, I think that it is safe to say that He intends for us to use it. God is not against us dreaming and striving towards bigger things. The key is that our dreams and goals are in line with his character and glory. Don’t let others limit the dreams that God has given to you.

A final note, is what to do when we fail? Doesn’t that prove that it’s not worth trying to change in the first place? No. It doesn’t. Failing is a blessing in disguise. Of course failing is not what we aim for, but when we fail, it is a gracious reminder that we are human, and that we are now a part of this world that is full of failures and disgraces. The beauty of that is not in the failures, but in the remedy. Christ came because of failure. Christ died because we messed up. Failures remind us of our limitations, our humanity, our shortcomings, and they point us towards a redeemer, a hope, a better Forgiver. By falling, we can get back up.

I hope that you are excited about this new year. I hope you are excited about turning a page in the story and chasing after the things that God has for you in 2013.

What is your biggest goal for 2013? Check back Friday, because I’m going to be sharing some great resources to help you achieve some of your goals this year!!

Happy New Year!!

2013 has descended upon us! Happy New Year! I hope that you enjoyed a blessed New Year and were able to celebrate with friends and family. This is such an exciting time of life, with a blank year laid out before us in which our stories will be unfolded. Isn’t it crazy to look forward on a new year, and realize that you have no idea what will happen, but to acknowledge the fact that you are an actor is this great story of life? I’m excited.

And, of course, what would New Year’s be without new goals and aspirations? You know, I am sometimes hesitant about making goals, simply because I know how bad I can be at keeping them. But, falling isn’t really a reason not to go forward, it’s even more reason to keep trying and pushing and working. What are your goals for 2013? I won’t share all of mine, because I feel like just about every aspect of my life is lacking, and so there are a lot of things I would like to improve, but I will share a few with you.

Goals for 2013:

  1. I would like to submit at least 4 poems or short stories to magazines or competitions this year.
  2. I would like to read and review 50 books. (Sound familiar?)
  3. I would like to build this blog into something a little bigger, a little more user-friendly, and a little more helpful.
  4. I would like to learn how to plan better for meals and home organization.
  5. I would like to become fluent in Turkish!

So, those are a few goals I am hoping to work towards this year. You may have noticed that I have rearranged the blog a little. That was something I’d been hoping to work on for the last week or so, and I finally had time to do it! So, some posts have been deleted, some have been re-categorized, and the tabs at the top of the page are a bit different. I plan to continue writing book reviews frequently, and I would also like to continue to write flash fiction and poetry, but you will find them in the Journal section now. Hopefully the others are mostly self explanatory, with the exception of CIO – Check It Out! This is where I will be putting posts with links or videos that I am sharing from other sites. Finally, I’m hoping to write a bit more on Home (organizing and food) and Travel (tips and stories) this year. So, I just thought I’d give a quick run-down on those so that you knew what to expect.

Well, I’m off to eat some New Year Pancakes and enjoy the day off!! Hope you are all having a great start to 2013. I’m excited about the journey!!

A Happy Bayram

This week was bayram here in Turkey (and in all of the Muslim world.) I wrote a post about this last year, that you can read here. I have thoroughly enjoyed just enjoying my time off. We have seen a movie, gone to a couple of basketball games, met a pretty cool famous person, slept in, played with our puppy, spent time with friends, eaten good food, and overall just enjoyed a slower pace.

I’ve decided that in part of my endeavor of resurrecting my regular posting schedule, I will use this week to share a picture every day with you. I’ve got some good ones already, and this one is one of my favorites. Really . . . how could I not buy this when I saw it on the shelf? What a good way to start each morning, or end each day!!

It’s all about Him

My heart is heavy today for friends that just sent their baby boy back to God. Their latest note included the last verse to this song and it took me back to the time when I was facing this situation with my family and my 8 day old niece also passed on to glory. And it hurts. But even when it hurts, it’s about Jesus, and about the fact that one day He is going to make it all better. He is the great perfecter. This is the great, driving storyline of the world. Jesus makes and will make it better. And that’s why it’s all about Him.

The Culture of Public Transportation . . .

I’ve been considering ways I’ve changed since moving to Turkey recently. I guess part of it is just being reflective, having a lot of standing and thinking time on the bus, and one of my Master’s classes is focused on culture this semester. So, I thought I’d share some of these things with you . . . perhaps someone will find them interesting.

My current observations have to do with public transportation since I have spent a substantial amount of time recently utilizing it. I must say that when I was growing up, I never envisioned myself running down the road, flagging a guy driving a short bus and desperately hoping he would wait for me. And since moving here, I’ve been surprised that this morning he did wait for me!

I also never really foresaw getting my foot shut in the door of a minibus and my shoe falling off in the process.

But what started all of these observations about my new public transportation using identity was the other day when I got onto a bus and was absolutely thrilled that I got a “good standing spot.” That is definitely something I never anticipated. I hadn’t really prepped myself for standing for an entire 45 – 60 minute trip to school, and since adjusting to that, I have now categorized all the different places in the buses by their degree of ease for the stander. This usually includes whether or not there is something to lean against, or a waist high bar to grab onto as opposed to have to reach 2 feet above your head to hold the rail. There are a couple of buses that have these select corners by the windows, and those are the absolute best, because you barely have to hold on, you can just lean into the corner.

So, I will say that there is quite a culture to public transportation, and I am not native in it for sure, but I think I’m getting there.

How do you get to work each morning?

Home . . . Summer Lessons

Ah. Home. There is a thunderstorm outside, we just stocked the cupboards with groceries, the internet is up. It feels like home!

I realize that I have not been keeping up with my posting schedule recently. I’m sorry. Kind of. I’m not going to promise that I will be completely back to my schedule yet, but I will start posting more regularly now that I am starting to get back into a routine. But for today, I just want to share a few lessons I learned this summer. These aren’t long and drawn out, just some simple ideas that I hope will be an encouragement to you!

1. People take Priority: I’m putting this first because really, this is why I haven’t been blogging. This summer was a lot about spending time with family and friends, and I realized again how blessed I am with the people in my life. Don’t fall into the trap of letting the internet or other hobbies and interests take precedent over the people in your life, because they aren’t always going to just be right there . . . and generally, all of the other things that you want to fill your time with will be there when you find yourself alone.

2. Comparison Kills Joy: I’ve known this for a long time. Really, I have. But knowing something doesn’t always mean that I act like I know it. I had a couple of conversations over this summer about how easy it is to become discontent when you start measuring your life up to someone else’s. I’ll try to avoid getting long about it, but even things such as facebook require extreme caution for anyone who is trying to live a joy-filled and content life. I’ve thought about this many times, but facebook has taken people we know and are friends with and has “celebratized” them. It used to be okay when we saw Hollywood stars going on adventures or spending exorbitant amounts of money, or having something seemingly really awesome happen in their lives. They were Hollywood stars, not normal people. But now we are constantly seeing all of the amazing things that people we know and equate ourselves with. Guess what, everyone, myself included likes to share the good things about life on the internet. It’s this safe haven where we can build ourselves up and we can show other people the exciting things about our lives, but those people are not present for the intense trials, temptations, and daily mood swings that we experience. I’m not saying that we need to share every difficult part of our lives on the internet, but we do need to be wary that we are not only using our social platforms as an opportunity to brag or show off without reason. Also, and especially we women, need to be careful not to let facebook statuses and pictures and other conversations (and not just facebook, but any social media) destroy our contentment in the adventure that God has chosen for us. Okay, I’ll stop for now.

3. He cares about the little things: If I can say that I have learned anything this last week, it is that God cares about the little details of my life. I won’t bore you with details, but that has just been evident to me this week.

4. Dreams can come true with hope, prayer, and work.

5. I married an amazing man.

So, that’s a shortlist of things that I have been learning this summer. There’s a lot more, and maybe some of it will find it’s way on here throughout the year, but for now I will leave you with these thoughts. What has your summer taught you?