Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Liebster Award!!

I was nominated for the Liebster Award by the lovely Ruby over at rubylaurenlives. Ruby runs an adorable little blog that I highly suggest checking out! Side note to thank Ruby. Ruby thank you so much for checking out my little blog and for nominating me. You are too sweet!! 

Like Ruby said in her nomination post, I am very surprised to be nominated as I assumed all my page views were my own. I also could imagine the page views being attributed to my mother sitting at her computer and refreshing the page for a self-esteem booster. That's what moms are for, right? However, apparently at least a few of those readers are people other than my mom!

What is the Liebster Award, you may be asking. I did not know either, so I ran a quick google search. The award is a chain letter type award that bloggers pass on to one another to help each other gain new readers and discover new blogs. As a strict protester of chain letters, I will certainly break that silent protest because I love the idea of bloggers helping each other out and sharing readers! With no further ado- here are the rules, questions and new nominations for my Liebster Award!

1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Answer the questions from the nominator
3. Nominate other bloggers with less than 200 followers (I cheated here, I don't follow that many new blogs)
4. Create 11 new questions for nominees to answer
5. Notify nominees through social media/blogs


1. What's your favourite thing about where you live?
Oh this is a tough one. I have previously written about my concept of home and how I live in many different places, especially being in between homes as a college student. At this I would say my favorite part about where I live are the people because no matter where I am currently taking up residence- there are always people with open arms that make me feel right at home! 

2. What would your dream pet be?
A hedge hog. Hedgehogs are unfortunately illegal house pets in Pennsylvania BUT as I am currently picking out grad schools the first requirement is that the state I move has no winter and the second requirement is that the state allows pet hedge hogs. Next would be the quality of the school but that is not as important.  

3. If you got 3 free holidays to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would without a doubt return to Honduras, I would visit Asia and probably return to Europe. 

4. Who/what inspired you to start a blog?
My favorite bloggers inspired me to start blogging. Sadly, the only blog that I was in love with who currently still blogs is Glennon Melton over at Monastery. Which is weird because she is a mom blogger and I am not a mom. However, she is also kick ass and admirably compassionate. Sometimes I want to be her when I grow up.  

5. What's your favourite season of the year?
Hmmmm let's see about that.. Fall, Fall and Fall! Boots, scarves and pumpkin spice everything. 

6. Which TV/Movie character/s would you like to meet in real life?
Addison Montgomery from Grey's Anatomy/Private practice.... That's all I can think of but I am sure there are more. 

7. First thing you look for in a romantic partner?
Shared values and killer sense of humor. 

8. What job would you like to have in the future?
Marriage and Family Therapist, with a Play Therapy Specialization AKA I am going to be in school forever. 

9. Favourite sweet/candy?
Butter Fingers. 

10. What's your favourite clothes shop?
Forever 21 or Old Navy or something else cheap. 

11. Favourite album?
I have a little music crush on Taylor Swift's new album. 

My Questions for you!
1. When people ask you to, "Tell me about yourself.", what do you say?
2. What is the most important thing in your life?
3. What is your favorite holiday?
4. Who is your favorite music artist?
5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
6. What is the most essential item in your closet? 
7. Did you go/are you currently in College? Why or why not?
8. Favorite place to shop?
9. Why did you start blogging?
10. Looking back to a year ago today, is your life how you expected it would be?
11. What are the most important things you would like to accomplish in your life?

Thank you for reading and I hope you choose to participate!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Netherlands Adventures: Day 11-16

This last week has been one of my favorites since I have been here. Call me a nerd but I was excited to spend a lot of our class time asking questions and learning about cultural differences. We had a panel where we could ask experts on questions of our choice. Given the fact that they were mostly business men and historians we gave them a run for their money with our sex and family life questions. 

Wednesday of this week we travelled to Belgium and spent the night in Brussels. I have a thing for old pretty buildings so my hatred of walking in the rain was over run by the abundance of pretty buildings. Along with sight seeing and shopping, I got to check 'eating Belgian waffles in Belgium' off my bucket list which will forever be in my top ten moments of the trip. 

One of my favorite parts of the trip to Brussels was seeing the doors of the French Embassy, just days after the attack in Paris, filled with flowers passing on condolences. There is something about being in the place as history is happening and hearing more than just the medias take on it that strikes a chord in me. 

I also got to see the outside of US embassy, however I was NOT allowed to take a picture. A fact I learned the hard way, after a professor told us to snap a picture I thought 'great idea' and pulled out my phone. I was immediately scolded by a guard. He went as far as checking my phone to assure I did not get a picture and joked that he would have to call the police. My friend and I went back the next day to ask if our U.S. Passport would allow us a look around. Not surprisingly, we were turned away. 

On Thursday we had to pair up and ask perfect strangers a question about European culture. I automatically became an introvert and was absolutely terrified to initiate conversation. Most of the day was spent saying "should we ask them?" We got through it but it was definitely a new experience feeling shy!   

Friday and today I have been staying at my hosts home with two other roommates and her family. She said she was nervous that I would not like it but it has been a really great time. We watched movies and ate entirely too much food, so it was a typical weekend for me. We spent yesterday baking. Well mostly they baked, I took pictures and ate the cookies. They made me try 'typical Dutch' things such as Bitter Bal (a weird meet ball thing), Drop (salty licorice), and Kruukpleatjes (cookies you make on a skillet). 

We came to the conclusion that our communication has been like a game of charades. They say "how do you call this in English" and give clues until I figure it out and then we all celebrate. We also have a lot of fun laughing at each other when they try to explain what they mean. My favorite was "spider house" to describe "spider web". The language barrier can be frustrating but google translate and a good sense of humor always helps. 

Today my hosts whole family came over and we all had lunch. I was unable to win over her adorable nieces since I do not speak Dutch- I think that may be the first time a child did not like me! We finished off the meal by them filming me trying to learn Dutch words. I'm just gonna say, I don't think Dutch is going to become my second language anytime soon. I put up with the teasing though because they have been speaking English for me all month!

We went to church this evening, which was interesting. I had to wear a hat, a skirt and sit still the whole time. They spoke Dutch, so I couldn't tell you what the sermon was about if I tried- it was most certainly a new experience!

Tomorrow starts our last week here. I am without a doubt having the time of my life but I am beginning to get a bit of homesickness. I will be excited to touch down in PA but I am excited to see what this next week brings. My hosts and I are not looking forward to saying goodbye to each other so that will not be fun at all. This experience has been so great and my heart has grown so much with so many new relationships. I cannot believe it's going so fast!

I am sure I am missing something in here but we have a 7:30 am train to catch back to school in the morning so this will have to do! 


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Netherlands Adventures Day 8-10

I do not have much to update and reflect on as I feel like I have settled in and have somewhat of a rhythm here in Ede. I have settled into the house I am staying in and made new friends. The days are spent doing different assignments and the evenings are spent hanging out or exploring.

Saturday, we went to Zealand to walk on the beach and sight see. I was told there would be wind but this is not wind that you could explain in words. This was WIND. It reminded me of the crusty crab pizza episode of spongebob. Here is a visual of that to help you. 

We went look at the windmills, The Netherlands claim to fame and a storm broke loose on us. We.were.soaked. SOAKED. We decided it was one of those experiences we would later find funny. 

Once we all dried off and warmed up, all of the American students got together to eat pizza and watch a movie. Well everything in the Netherlands closes around 8 pm. Except a few select pizza places. However, if you have never tried to order pizza in a foreign country- it's not as easy as it sounds. It took us two hours and two different a pizza places to finally get our food.

Sunday we went to a cute little international church that did church in a very interesting way. It was much less structured and very community oriented. They asked everyone visiting for the first time to stand- they clapped and welcomed all of us and listened to our names and why we were there. At the end they asked whoever was visiting for the last time to stand- and again we stood. They had us come up front and sang a blessing over us, "May God's blessing surround you each day, as you trust him and walk in his way. May his presence within guard and keep you from sin, go in peace, go in joy, go in love.’ ." It was different but touching.

In the afternoon we went to a museum that featured big name artists- Van Gough, Monet.. I am not a huge art fan but it was definitely interesting and we took some interesting group pictures on the sculptures.

Monday and Tuesday were spent working on projects and interviewing experts on specific topics in European culture. My group focused on social justice, human rights and family life. It was a very interesting experience. 

Monday evening we took a train to explore Utrecht, a very historical city in The Netherlands. I came back earlier than the group to have a traditional Dutch meal prepared by my hosts neighbors. It was good- but mostly veggies mashed together, so we ate pizza when we got back. 

Tomorrow we head to Belgium and will spend the night in Brussels! I cannot believe my trip is almost half over!! I will have more to update in the coming days. Enjoy these pictures from our trip far!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Netherlands Adventures Day 3,4 and 5

Somehow five days in Europe have passed! As expected I have already broken the mold of a typical American stereotype by being rather direct. I was told by our Dutch teacher, "For an American student you are very much direct and I do not think I am the first person to tell you that." It may be shocking to you, but no this is not the first time I have been called direct

I have gotten used to biking everywhere we go, although originally I was so so sore, I told my mom I felt like I had given birth. She assured me that I was most likely being dramatic and not experiencing pain comparable to child birth. I have successfully navigated myself home and back by myself on my bike. I have an atrocious sense of direction and have been known to have a fiery temper when lost. However, lucky for me, a bike does not have a windshield which could unintentionally bear the wrath of a malfunctioning GPS that was thrown in frustration (which is a hypothetical situation, of course. I have never actually accidentally shattered a windshield in displaced, "I am lost" anger) I even found my way in the pouring down rain, twice! And I do not do rain, water or anything that requires me to have to re-straighten my hair. Except for times I have to and this is one of those times. However, I do not really mind. Cycling back and forth to school is actually kind of relaxing and I get in exercise I would otherwise never (ever) do. Which is very convenient because I have eaten exactly 732 Dutch chocolate bars so far. I do not understand the calorie or nutrition information so I am assuming the food does not contain calories, so the biking is good.

The last few days I have been working through the challenges of working in group projects with multiple cultures. All in all it has been a pleasant experience and I have gained new friends. All of our papers must be written in English (even for the Dutch speaking students) so this is the first time I have been the expert on the English Language. It is particularly entertaining when no one can figure out how to translated particular words, so we turn to Google translate. 

Now that I feel comfortable on a bike and know my way around, I feel little culture difference and realize how similar we all are. My hosts and I watch Netflix, eat chocolate and sit around in the living room talking every night, literally no difference than life in my apartment at Messiah. One particularly upsetting cultural difference was the fact that my roommates had never had a butter finger candy bar. Luckily for them, I had a bag of mini butter fingers so we could take care of that situation immediately.

It has been fun to talk about the differences and assumptions about the other countries. I have concluded that most Dutch students assume that the United States is comprised of New York (meaning the city, completely disregard that it is an entire state), California and Disney World. Which is fair of them because I probably would have assumed that all of The Netherlands is Amsterdam. I also have been asked about 14 times whether I own a gun.

On Tuesday we went to a place called the Open Air museum, which was not what I expected. I can be quite dumb, so when I heard air and automatically assumed we were going to a museum about airplanes. I was pleasantly surprised to realized Open Air museum simply meant an outdoor museum, with no airplanes. I was probably alone in my original assumption but oh well.

We spent the day learning about Dutch culture by walking through houses set up to display typical Dutch houses through the times. However, we spent an unusual amount of time analyzing the behavior of the ducks. We had a lot of fun ice skating, going on rides and slides that would have certainly been much more regulated and quite possibly illegal in the US. We were basking in the extra freedom on the slide by breaking the record of inter tubes going down the slide at once. The record was 7, we had 8.

In evening I was absolutely exhausted from not sleeping the night before (my body has not adjusted to the time change) and a full day of activities. However, we biked to the cinema and watched a movie. It was a strange but funny movie. Afterwards we biked back in the rain. As I dried myself off I told my hosts that they would visit me in the states and we will drive EVERYWHERE. Once I was dry, we sang and had birthday cake for on of the girls in the house who was turning 18 on Tuesday.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day studying and sleeping as I was feeling under the weather and today has been the same. The first few days have been exciting and interesting. I love it here and cannot believe a week has almost come and gone! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Netherlands Adventures: Day 1 and 2

I want so badly to crawl into bed and pass out but I want to capture these first few days in words now. before the newness slips away. Before the overwhelming, crazy culture shock stops feeling so shocking and overwhelming. I want to get in words the feelings and thoughts swirling around in my jet lagged head before I experience another day.

The words. I cannot find the perfect string of words to capture exactly how I am feeling. I feel like my Dutch hosts as they try to find the word in English to communicate what they are thinking in Dutch. Except Google Translate cannot assist as perfectly in this scenario. I feel tired, mostly. However, I feel excited, eager, anxious, happy, joyful and as I am spending the first night in place I will call home for the next 3 weeks, I feel content. 

We arrived in Amsterdam at 8 am yesterday (2 am back home) and hit the ground running. We went to a typical tourist location, which I cannot remember the name. We sampled cheese, stood on top of windmills and went to a museum our professor compared to Hershey Chocolate World, except there were no singing cows. I really did enjoy it but as one of my Dutch hosts said, "That's cliche." There were free cheese samples though and with that I was entirely content.

We stayed the night in Amsterdam, which was comparable to an American city in some ways, although in other ways it was an entirely different world. You immediately realize you are no longer in the infamous Messiah College bubble when the door to the hostel has a sign warning us against cocaine, because it may actually be white heroin. We walked through the red light district which had girls on sale in windows with men gawking, yelling at and buying them. My heart broke as I listened to a Dutch student explain that 80% of these girls are forced to be there and it is near impossible to save them from it. However, We went to the Hillsong United song- which is located in a night club. we experienced a night where there are people still claiming the name of Jesus over Amsterdam. It was a whirlwind of new, different, and overwhelming. 

This morning I begrudgingly woke up and packed up. Two of us, myself included and a Dutch student traveled by train to Ede where we will spend the next 3 weeks. The other students traveled by car and met us there. We had orientation classes at CHE, a Christian college. Which are very different than in the US in the sense that the students talk through the whole class, which does not offend the professor at all. We then broke into project groups to begin working on our first assignment. If you think that group projects are difficult, try working on group projects with students from three different cultures. 

After our classes we got to pick up our own bicycle, the main mode of transportation in The Netherlands. If you know me, my coordination, my sense of direction and my luck you're already laughing at the thought of me getting around on a bike. Next, we got a tour of the academic building and I remember exactly 1 percent of what he showed us. That one percent being the location of the Starbucks (again, if you know me at all you are not at all surprised) 

Finally after a full day of newness- we did the one thing  I had been anxious to do, meet our student hosts. I am staying with six Dutch girls in a cozy little house about 15 minutes (biking distance) from CHE. The girls are all sweet, funny, sarcastic and welcoming. They showed me around their house, ending in my little, cozy room on the top floor. They have my room decorated super cute and with the same color scheme as my room back home in my apartment (and they had no clue) So basically it is a sign that I am in just the right spot. 

The first night with 6 strangers was not at all as awkward was you would imagine. They laughed at me through my first wobbly pedals of the bike and as I butchered the Dutch pronunciation of their names. We sat around the dinner table and had polite dinner conversation... actually we discussed the meaning and level of offensiveness in Dutch and American swear words. We played a game which in English means 'all cards on the table' which is a get to know you game. We talked deep, we laughed, they made me try to pronounce the questions in Dutch and then we laughed some more. I feel right at home. 

I am exhausted, it is all so new, foreign, overwhelming and I am sure I am forgetting important details of the first two days here. Everything is just so new. I have a new school, a new house, six new roommates and new assignments. For the moment, it feels like I will be here a long time. In reality I am just dipping in and out of this rich, very different culture. My world is growing and I am changing. I am anxious to see how I grow and change over these next 3 weeks.

Friday, January 2, 2015

42 Bible Verses to Memorize in 2015

One of my New Years resolutions is to memorize more scripture. I am hoping to do 1 a week, however I know that I will be out of the country for 5 weeks this year and on vacation another 5 weeks. My regular quiet time will still happen, of course but I only gathered 42 verses for the weeks I will be in my apartment or at home. I made pretty cards with scrapbook pages to hang them up around my apartment. Here are the 42 verse I plan to memorize put into 10 categories.

God's plan for me

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16

God's timing

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For there is a time and a way for everything, although man's trouble lies heavy on him. Ecclesiastes 8:6

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2 Peter 3:8

God's Faithfulness

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.Lamentations 2:23

God's provision and guidance

I will go before you 
and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. Isaiah 45:2

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43: 2-3a

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.Psalm 119:105

But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 2:9

I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Psalm 23:1-6

God's Strength

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.Psalm 28:7

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still. Exodus 14:14

For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory. Deuteronomy 20:4

The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. Exodus 15:2


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 1-2

God's love and Grace

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

Loving one another 

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Luke 6:35

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 

Your mind and thoughts

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

Your Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Your mouth speaks from that which fills your heart. Luke 6:45