Istanbul’s a Little Magical Today

So, there’s a bit of magic going on today. I can’t describe how amazing the spring has been here, how renewing, exciting, and blessed. Narli and I wanted to share a little bit of it with you today. Enjoy the reminder of His promises, and the thought that He makes all things new!!

20130412-152615.jpg

20130412-152605.jpg

20130412-152556.jpg

20130412-152728.jpg

20130412-152734.jpg

20130412-152747.jpg

20130412-152755.jpg

20130412-152807.jpg

20130412-152814.jpg

Advertisements

Who Do You Think You Are: Review

My generation doesn’t know who they are. We are constantly trying to define ourselves by which start-up, which brand, which branch, which group, which career, which university, which personality . . . get it? We want so badly to be someone, but at the same time, we don’t want to be like everyone. It is a dilemma to be sure, and many of us are approaching adulthood and struggling through identity crises. But there’s good news. However, for Christians, our identity has been defined, and who we are has been cleared. We are in Christ.

This was a very timely read for me. I feel like I could read it again already, although I have just finished it about two weeks ago. Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Washington State, presents a very easy, clear, and challenging look at our identity as found in Ephesians in his book Who Do You Think You Are? I thoroughly enjoyed this journey through Ephesians because it challenged my ideas of identity and finding my identity in what I did or who valued me. Rather, as Driscoll points out, our identity is bound up in Christ and His finished work on the cross.

Driscoll walks through each section of Ephesians and shows us what our new identity in Christ looks like. What does it mean to be redeemed? How does my interaction with others change? How do I act if I really believe I am forgiven? This book was really helpful for me to hold up a model for what my life ought to look like since I have been bought with a price, and since my identity has been changed. It was an encouragement to see how I could let go of the things that were holding me back, and at the same time it was a challenge to actually let go of those things that are holding me back. I am now a child of God. What happened in my past cannot weaken His power or grace. I cannot grovel in my past failures, or boast in my successes, because all of it has been stripped away, and I have been given a new persona. I am Christ’s image-bearer here, in this world, for this time.

Driscoll has also been preaching the same series at his church in Washington, so I have been listening along online. It has been great for me to really revel in the Gospel and in the finished work of Christ and what that really means for my life. Listening and reading to the same message has challenged me to seriously think through how I am living and who I view myself as. Because that view really does invade and influence the rest of my life and interactions.

I would highly recommend this book for any Christian who has ever struggled with their identity in Christ and what that practically looks like. If you have ever wallowed in guilt and wondered how to rise up from it? If you have found yourself struggling with pride and wanted freedom to truly serve Christ, then this book will help you to explore who you now are and what the new you should do and look like.

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?

Emptied

betrayed

and never so willingly so.

beaten

and never a protest or blow.

dead

and never so undeservedly.

buried

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
“HE IS NOT HERE!!”

emptied

and never so excitedly done.

risen

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.

Travel Tips Ep: 1

Wow, where has March gone? I wasn’t expecting it to go quite so fast! The weather in Istanbul is AMAZING this week! It is absolutely gorgeous and is making me want to break out the summer clothes and go on an adventure! Which . . . by the way is what this month’s blog posts are supposed to be about, but apparently they have been off adventuring as well!

I love to travel, and I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to some cool places. Sometimes we travel because we want to, and sometimes we travel because we have to. But regardless, we generally always love it, whether it is for work or pleasure. Along the ways, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me enjoy traveling even more. Today, I’m going to share a couple of “Before You Go” tips for traveling.

blog2Before You Go:

1. Packing: okay. So, I don’t really think you need a whole lot of help in this department, but my biggest advice is to go light, especially if you are traveling outside of America! Once you get outside of the States (in my experience, anyway) you dramatically increase your amount of walking and carrying and changing transportation!! So, I have found a rolling suitcase that rolls, has handles, and also has backpack strips that zip into the back. I love this, because it is a good size (the size of a carry-on rolling bag), but it can expand and it is so easy to carry. I also recommend packing light, and packing more tops than bottoms. Jeans are versatile, and tops are what you notice more in pictures!! Don’t forget to put your liquids and toiletries in appropriate bags according to the guidelines of whichever country you are traveling in.

2. Planning: What I like to do when traveling to a new place is to look up all of the attractions in the area, and then consult with your fellow travelers and rank that top 3-5 things you REALLY want to do. One thing that Jeremy and I have done before that was helpful was to make a list of all of the attractions and then make notes about the price of entrance and what was there. We then marked our top 3 or so and made sure to hit those, but then we could easily see which other things would suit our schedule and budget and do those as well when we had free time. By planning this way, we were able to feel like we got what we wanted out of our trip without either wasting time or not enjoying attractions because we didn’t have enough time.

*Side note: If you have a mobile device, you should definitely search in your app store for the city you are visiting. You may be surprised at how many free app guides there are out there!!

3. Preparing: This is a huge thing that can totally change how much you enjoy your trip. Jeremy and I love this stage!! When we figure out where we are going, we like to find ways to learn more about the history, culture, and people of that area. Some of our favorite ways to do that are to read novels or books about the area and listen to podcasts. One of our favorite podcast series to find little known facts about different places around the world is Stuff You Missed in History Class.

*Another side note: Although this tip was geared towards ways to mentally prepare yourself to really enjoy your trip, I’d also make a point to check out how to get around the city where you are going. If you come to Istanbul, for example, you need to have a travel card or it is going to be ROUGH! So, I would check into these things before traveling: 

  • currency and conversion rate
  • cultural expectations (are their rules that you must follow?
  • travel – how can you get around?
  • learn a few travel phrases! My top suggestions: “Please,” “Thank you,” “Hello/Good morning/Good afternoon,” and “Excuse me.”
  • check to see if where you are traveling has a consulate or embassy and whether or not you should register with them. (For example, there are some places in the world that are currently more dangerous for traveling but you can sign up for updates from the embassy and also let them know that you are in the country.)
  • check whether or not you need a visa, if you can buy it at the border, and how much it is. (Also keep in mind that a lot of times you will have to pay for visas and other documents with your home country currency, not the currency of the country where you are traveling.)

Okay, and finally, my top two sites to help you out in the preparation stages of your traveling:

  • momondo.com: This is my personal favorite for finding plane tickets. 
  • tripadvisor: This site has lots of information about hotels and activities to do almost anywhere in the world.

Where are you going next? I’m going to Vienna!!

Well, hello, March!

march2013This month’s theme is travel!! I’m really excited about writing and sharing ideas and stories from traveling, and I hope that you’ll leave me some comments and stories yourself! What is your favorite place you have traveled to, and what made it your favorite? I don’t know if I can narrow mine down right now, so I guess you’ll have to wait until I post about favorite trips!!

I hope you enjoy this desktop calendar, and happy March!!

 

28 Days of LOVEliness

Empty glasses and parched lips,
My nearly empty bottle’s got
Barely any sips.

His hands are cold,
Wrinkled and old,
But the five in my pocket could warm them
I guess.

Misinformed taxi and no local phone,
At least we were close to home,
Breakfast and google.

His problems were far beyond any capacity of
Mine to aid.
Thankful for a lap, a smile, and time.

Questions I can answer,
Dreams we can both share,
Morning coffee and new friends.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

How can you love like Jesus today?