Saturday, January 23, 2016

Travel Bucket List, Part 2

We're not quite ready for the U.S. list just yet because I keep finding international places that I REALLY want to go to. Here are some more:

  • The village of Manarola Cinque Terre, Italy--no words needed:

  • I've never seen anything like this in my life: on the island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean, there is a beach that is so close to the airport that if you're on the beach, the planes are about 20 feet over your head. 

  • Tashirojima in Japan: an island in Japan with more cats than people.

  • The island of Capri off the coast of Italy:

  • Azenhas do Mar, a seaside town in Portugal. I'm planning to go to Portugal this year, and I'm so excited about it:

  • St. John. Ok, this isn't really international because it's in the U.S. Virgin Islands. But have you ever seen a more beautiful beach?

More coming soon!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Thankful. Unshakable. Hopeful.

Right now, I am thankful for long, long talks with my dear friend from law school over dinner at Red Pepper Taqueria, complete with watermelon margaritas and queso and laughing until I have hiccups. The kind of talks where we tell each other that we're valuable and to keep trying and remind each other to surround ourselves with people who love us and push us to be BETTER.

I am thankful for cold and sunny January weekends, where the year is so new you are still taking its packaging off, filled with a stirring and impulsive hope for what is to come.

I am thankful for the technology that lets me talk to my friend who's all the way over in South Korea. And I am so thankful for starting off my day today with a huge life discussion with her--the kind where we reminded each other not to hope in the wrong things. And that life's not about us, it's about glorifying God. And that JESUS is the only firm foundation of our lives. And that we need to stop running away from hard things and instead lean into the challenges and lean into our weaknesses. And that our day-to-day lives are about so much MORE than our happiness and fulfillment and satisfaction; they're about fulfilling kingdom purposes and drawing others to Christ and stockpiling our treasures in heaven. Not here. No, not here. And that if we hope in the Lord, we will never be shaken. No, not ever.

I'm thankful for Isaiah 28:16, which says that the one who believes will be unshakable. Unshakable. I love that so much! The Living Bible translates it a little differently to say, "He who believes need never run away again." Other translations say, "He who believes will never be disappointed." The overall message is so clear--if our hope and faith and reliance is fully and completely in the Lord, we don't need to run away from the hard things or sprint from the storms, because we place all our hope and expectation in the solid Rock. In fact, we can lean into the hard things because of our hope in the Lord. I run away far too much. You probably do too. I run away from things that seem hard. I run away from things that scare me. I run away from things that are outside my comfort zone. I need to stop running away. I don't need to keep running away, because my hope is in the one unshakable foundation and, therefore, I am unshakable too.

I'm thankful for this reminder from Lamentations that I blogged about last year: "Even then, all is not lost. We cannot lose everything. Because his mercies never fail. They are not yesterday's mercies, because they are new every morning. We don't have to try to 'store up' the mercies of God out of fear that we're not getting fresh ones tomorrow, because we are."

I'm thankful that of the three times in my life that my boss has written "good" on an assignment that I did for him, two of them were in the last three weeks (need to keep this streak going).

I'm deeply thankful for each and every song on the Passion: Salvation's Tide Is Rising album. Please get it on your Spotify playlist ASAP! These songs are chock-full of faith and brimming with hope. This is my absolute favorite song on that album and I've been listening to it on repeat every morning while I get ready for work. I also love this one.

I'm thankful for the chance to read through some old journals and have a hilarious and riveting journey through God's faithfulness in my life.

I'm thankful for being in the process of redecorating my apartment (pictures coming soon).

I'm thankful for cute lamps and candles on sale and my "lush Amazon rainforest" and "coconut cake" candles making my bedroom smell amazing.

I'm thankful for the toppling stack of books I want to read in the next few weeks.

I hope you all will find much to be thankful for in the days and weeks ahead!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

My Travel Bucket List, Part 1

I'm sure that most of you know by now that I really love to travel. I'm one of those people who wants to go to every country in the world, explore the most remote places, and have some crazy experiences along the way. My personal travel bucket list for my life gets longer every time I read or hear about a new place, but here's the most significant places on my list, with Part 2 coming soon (with some pictures to inspire y'all to want to go there too!):
  • The Great Salt Flats in Bolivia--This used to be a huge lake, which dried up leaving only salt behind. During the rainy season, it reflects the sky like a huge mirror. 

I especially want to watch the sun rise here and watch the stars come out. This is why: 

  • The Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan. 

  • Lapland, Finland: This is where you can watch the Northern Lights from your own personal IGLOO. 

And this picture is of a place in Lapland called Santa Claus Village:

  • The ice caves in Iceland. I just went to Iceland, and it was my favorite place I have EVER been, and I want to go on my honeymoon there/ retire there/ etc. But check out these amazing caves:

  • Zanzibar, which is in Tanzania:

  • Prince Edward Island in the autumn (which is in Canada):

  • Chefchaouen, a city in Morocco where all the buildings are painted blue:

  • The "swing at the end of the world" in Ecuador. I want to get on the swing too! No safety harnesses or anything though:

  • There's this beach in the Maldives covered with bioluminescent phytoplankton that look like stars:

  • And the black sand beaches in Iceland:

  • Eyjafjallajokull Volcano in Iceland:
  • The "glow worm cave" in New Zealand:

  • Of course Santorini. I've been to Greece, but I've never been here:
  • Machu Picchu in Peru:

  • Atlantic Ocean Road in Norway:

  • And of course, Antarctica. And I want to go scuba diving in Antarctica, too:

I don't just have a travel bucket list, I have a "photo bucket list" and I want to take photos at each of the above locations myself some day! Coming soon this week, Travel Bucket List Part 2: United States Edition. Until then, I hope I have helped some of you add to your own list!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Europe Recap. And Everything Else.

SO I'm just going to act like it's not been 57 years since I last blogged . . . right. Hi. I'm back. And I'm sitting at Starbucks planning to write this post and do my taxes and finish a project for my boss all in the next, say, hour and a half. So, first, I need to tell you all about Europe! Or instead, I'm mostly going to show you because I have some really great pictures. And because this was an amazing trip and I had so many wonderful experiences that I really don't know how to put them all into words!

This was our itinerary: We started out in Paris for 4 days. Then we spent two days in Rome, two days in Florence (which included a day trip tour of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside), two days in Venice, and two days in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.

Some of the most memorable moments: This BEAUTIFUL little town in the Tuscan countryside called San Gimignano, home of the world's best gelato and most stunning views! Going on a bike tour of Paris at night (most nerve-wracking experience ever, but fun! I had not been on a bike, except stationary bikes at the gym, since 2007). Traveling around in a "water taxi" in Venice. Climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower, to the top of huge hills in Rome and Florence, and to the top of a cathedral in Reykjavik. Experiencing the "polar nights" in Iceland because you're so close to the North Pole and it's December, so there's only 4 hours of sunlight each day. Three words: blackberry lavender gelato. The Louvre and seeing the Mona Lisa up close and personal. Touring massive "Christmas markets" in Paris. The Sistine Chapel and seeing Michelangelo's "Hand of God" painting. Sunset over the Venetian canals. The Colosseum at sunset. Going to a pizza-making class at the Florence Food and Wine Academy. Ferris wheel rides over Paris! Seeing the aurora borealis in a boat off the coast of Reykjavik. The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Lunch at a Tuscan winery. The best almond cookies in the world in Siena, Italy. Seeing the painted houses on the island of Burano off the coast of Venice. Going to a Vivaldi concert in Venice. Having the best brunches EVER in Iceland--they do brunch right! Tromping through 18+ inches of snow in Iceland and wondering what I had gotten us into!

All told, in two weeks, we went to 4 countries, including the smallest country in the world (Vatican City), 8 cities, and multiple islands, and walked more than 100 miles through Europe. In one day, we traveled by boat, bus, metro, plane, train, and car--I wonder if I'll ever do all that in one day again! We had such a great time and are so grateful to have the chance to travel together. Next up for us? Prince Edward Island, Morocco, Spain, and Portugal are on our list for this year . . . because life's too short not to ride a camel and go surfing in Africa and explore Madrid and see the Anne of Green Gables house, and I could go on! I have a million pictures, but these are my favorites:

And since coming back, I've been incredibly busy with the holidays, volunteering at the Passion 2016 conference, lawyering, and planning goals for the new year (post on this coming very soon.) I hope you all are having a very happy new year . . . more coming soon!