Our European Christmas Trip

Wednesday, February 10

I am almost done going through and editing all our pictures from our European Christmas trip. It's been fun reminiscing on each city we visited and how they decorated and celebrated the holidays.

I have also gotten a massive case of the giggles more than once looking at myself in this red hat above. I literally wore this hat almost the entire trip, and today just started to refer to myself as a cotton headed ninny muggins (Thanks Elf!!).  The term just fit so well with my little red hat, ha!

So, stay tuned next week as I start posting pics of our trip. If you've ever thought about going to Europe during Christmas, or even just in the winter season, i'll be sure to include all the tips we picked up along the way. I'll be linking the amazing Air BnB's and apartments we stayed in, as well as the yuletide activities we participated in:) I hope it will be helpful for you!!

On the home front here, we are getting more settled into our house each day. We've been able to walk EVERYWHERE, which is basically the biggest blessing ever. We've walked to church, to friend's houses, to my basketball games, to bible study. I feel like Rory from Gilmore girls, it's great. Now I just need to find a Luke's Diner (that serves gluten and dairy free, haha!).

Hope your Wednesday is amazing:) This Friday i'll be sharing more about Sari Bari, and my time in India capturing their story. Looking forward to showing you the gorgeous products from this amazing organization!!

When things are not what they seem...

Monday, February 8

A few months ago I observed a picture of a good friend of mine on FB where she was having a grand ol' time with a specific group of people in her life. I thought to myself, "wow, life just seems so wonderful for her. She just seems to get along with these specific people so well". And then I reflected on my own personal issues and how I had trouble relating to these same set of specific people in my own life, and wondered why I wasn't as skilled as my friend in this area.  

A few days later, I talked with this friend on the phone. And what she actually shared about those pictures shocked me. Evidently she recently had a major falling out with one of the people in the picture and was working on repairing that relationship. Nor was she proud of the way she acted. 

I had a good laugh with her on this, as I shared my own troubles in this department, and we both talked about how deceiving pictures can be on social media. How the viewer can assume so much. 

And then, a few days later this happened again with a different friend. 
Totally different circumstance, but same result. 
When I actually talked to this person privately, I found out that things were actually quite difficult for her in this moment. And we laughed, because I had experienced some of the same difficulties. 

And then the roles were reversed last week. I met up with an amazing older woman from my church for coffee. She asked me to share my story, and for about 45 minutes I gave her many intimate details of my sufferings, my joys, and my walk with Christ. When I finished detailing my life, she stared at me wide-eyed and told me she was surprised. She had observed me from afar for a few years, and had assumed that I was so put-together, so carefree, that I had experienced little in the way of suffering. She literally told me she would have never guessed that I had experienced so many struggles in my life.  

It's always interesting to hear what kind of impressions people have about you. In some ways it was nice to hear that I appeared to be put-together (when so often I feel like i'm hanging on by a thread), but in other ways it made me realize that I want people to know how feeble, how sensitive, and how "in-the-trenches" I am with those in pain. Pain and brokenness are not foreign to me. 

And so I guess I write this all to say a few things. 

First, we truly never know what people are going through. 
We must be kind and respectful, no matter what. 
We must love, even when people annoy or hurt us, because we truly have no idea what is going on in their soul. 
We must care. 
We must ask, and share our stories. 
And we must enter in, if that is what the other needs. 

Second, social media can trick us into assuming that everyone else has it all together, and make us feel as though we are a failure. I don't blame anyone one bit for sharing the positive things in their life. It's so wonderful to celebrate those joys.  It's essentially what I do here on this blog. 

And to be honest, I don't think social media is always the right avenue to expose the hard things in our lives. If i'm hurting, i'm going to reach out to the real people in my real life, and probably not write a lot about it  on the internet. I don't ever want my blog to be a place where I share specifics on people who have hurt me or rant about the negative things happening to me. I just don't always think that's appropriate. Which I why, I suppose, for the most part, I post happy and uplifting pictures here on my blog. But please be aware that while this blog tends to be very positive and chipper, my life isn't always such. And while I may not always post about the hard things, I do struggle, have days when anxiety flares, don't have perfect relationships with everyone I know, nor manage to have it all together. 

But that is why we must be so careful with social media. Pictures are only half the story. There is always so much more going on we do not see. If you find yourself comparing your hard bits of life, to other's highlights, then I might challenge you to consider a break from social media:) Just a thought!! 

I hope this is encouraging to you today. Each one of us has joys and pain, and we should never compare that to others. Instead, we should engage with one another and work to support each other in our current seasons. Meet up with your friends, ask them hard questions about their life, seek to pray for them intentionally, and just care. Write a card,  bring a meal over to someone, sneak a gift into their room, send a text. 

We all could use more caring and kindness and less comparing and assuming, right?  

Please know I love to pray for you dear reader:) I am never too busy to pray, so send me an email:) 
Happy Monday,  

One Week in our new home, and things i'm loving lately….

Monday, February 1

We've lived in Northern California for one week now. It's been beautiful and overwhelming all at the same time. As you saw on Friday, we bought a house. And as exciting as that has been, owning a home also comes with it's own challenges. When something's broken, you don't call the landlord…you fix it, haha! So, we've been filling our house with furniture (yeah craigslist!), and hooking up appliances, and washing clothes and linens to put away, and of course fixing leaks:)  Amazing, but time consuming.

I also decided to go off Facebook this last week. It's an idea i've been toying with for a while for a number of reasons. I'd say the biggest one is that I wasted a lot of time just scrolling the newsfeed, and never feeling necessarily the better for it. My desire with my life is that it is intentional, filled with real relationships where I am connecting and loving and being loved in return. I also have found that FB has become less and less personal. I want the people in my life to feel special because i'm sharing something sacred with them, and only them, as opposed to the hundreds of people online. So my goal is that every day I will have made one good and personal human connection filled with love and intentionality. This might be a hand-written card, a walk in the park, a phone call, coffee date, or even a text that I love them. So that's that:)

In a lot of ways the last week has felt like a warm and familiar embrace. So many people have stopped by our house to say hi and bring cards and flowers welcoming us back to town. We've had so many invitations to dinner in the last week as well as numerous texts of people asking us out to coffee. My sweet dad put together a women's basketball league at our church, and it's been a blast playing on his team the last 2 Sundays. It has just been so so good and filled with the connection that my soul was made for. I'm so eternally grateful for this sweet town and the incredible community that has already surrounded us, and look forward to so much in the future.

A few things i'm LOVING lately:

This Jacket: The jacket i'm wearing in this post is from SheIn. I literally have worn it 3 times this last week because I don't have to compromise style for warmth! It's both warm and stylish.  It's such a great piece because in the winter months it can be worn over a sweater as a jacket for more warmth, and in the other seasons can be worn with a light tank or t-shirt. The other great part about it is that it's only $24! Score! I'm just generally a fan of it's cheery color in these rainy months!

The Nightingale (by Kristin Hannah): Ummm…. have you read this book? I took it on our most recent trip to India and Nepal, and could.not.put.it.down. Ladies, this book is crazy addicting. It's about two sisters during WWII that in their own way helped the French resistance. The story line will keep you up into the wee hours of the night with a flashlight…or maybe that was just me? But to it's credit, it has a 5 start rating with over 17K reviews!! That means a LOT of people feel the same way as I do!

Serial (Season 1): I know, I know…i'm like 2 years late on listening to this podcast. But if you're a little behind the times like me and haven't listened to the podcast called Serial, you must. Kevin and I listened to it when we made the LONG drive from Southern California to Northern California, and we both agreed it was the fastest trip we'd ever made because time flew listening to the gripping tale. It's a true story and very interesting.

New Morning Mercies (by Paul David Tripp): This might be one of the best daily devotionals i've ever gone through. The author someone manages to take you so deep even in just a one page devotional. He's made me think about things in a different way, and i've truly hungered after the Lord in a more intense way after reading it each day. Absolutely worth purchasing:)