Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: Zoppini Charms

I guess I would consider myself a collector. More specifically, a sentimental collector. I enjoy things that are tied to a memory. For example, one of my favourite things to collect are Zoppini Italian Charms. My mom bought me my first Zoppini bracelet and charms several years ago as a gift. She shares my love for traveling so she had the brilliant idea of buying a charm for each country I had visited up to that point and each time I visit a new country, I get a new charm to put on my bracelet. So unique, so fun, and so...ME! I love it!

The current flags that I have as charms on my bracelet are:

United Kingdom
Puerto Rico

Flags of the countries I've been to that I need to add to my charm bracelet are:

Costa Rica

As you can see, I really love to travel! I've been blessed to have been able to see so much of the world already and hope to visit as many countries as I can. I love wearing my bracelet because it is definitely a conversation starter. I get asked questions about it nearly every time I wear it. I like that the charms allow me the opportunity to briefly share my traveling experiences with others and the sentimental reason behind the bracelet itself.

There are other Zoppini Charms aside from just flags so you could personalize it to match your personality and who you are. It's a fun way of collecting memories and because the charms are individually handpicked by you or a loved one, it is certain to be one-of-a-kind. Definitely a great gift idea for the holidays.

Check out their website for more detailed info:  http://www.zoppinicharms.co.uk/

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mental Vitamins: Willing Heart

"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." — E.B. White

This quote pretty much sums it up for me. Everyday I have so many thoughts and plans running through my head and find it hard to go in one direction. I have so many projects that I am currently involved in and I always seem to get to a certain point, then something new will come into play, and despite my best intentions,  those existing projects end up getting a bit neglected. It's hard to fully focus on one thing, but it's also hard to spread my focus amongst several things. And I think much of it has to do with the above statement...I can't seem to sort through my priorities when everything seems so important and I'm passionate about so much.

I'm certain many people think that I just lounge around all day while Jared is at work and do nothing. I have way too many thoughts and plans to simply be idle. I'm thankful that much of what I am trying to accomplish can be done from home. I don't get paid monetarily for it, but I am rewarded by knowing that my efforts are in some way helping lives. I may not be making news-worthy differences and I probably will never know many of the indirect ways that my actions or words have changed lives or impacted people but that's OK. I am not a glory seeker. I just want to know that I lived today the very best I could. I want to be certain that I didn't miss God's calling and that each day I fulfilled my daily purpose. My fear is that I won't spend my time wisely and that I won't fully enjoy the day God has given me.

We are not promised tomorrow or even a minute from this moment. When that thought is constantly in the forefront of my mind....just as this quote states...."it makes it hard to plan the day". However, it is comforting to know that God understands our hearts and sees our willingness to serve. It takes a little bit of the pressure off. He knows we can't possibly do it all, but a willing heart is all He asks of us. My desire for each day is to have a willing heart.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving, Reeses Hugs, Countdowns and Birthdays

Yesterday, Jared and I had our first Thanksgiving apart from family. It was also my first attempt at cooking Thanksgiving dinner on my own. But I must say, it was a success!! There were absolutely no turkeys to be found here in Switzerland.(as you might imagine...Thanksgiving....not such a big deal here) So I roasted a whole chicken instead. I tried to keep it as traditional as possible. Unfortunately I couldn't find yams either but I was able to cook up some stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes and garlic butter rolls. All homemade!

It was a "What About Bob" meal if I do say so myself! :)

We also received a care package from Dave & Charlotte on Thanksgiving making for one more thing to be thankful for! It was filled with lots of much needed cooking spices along with some other treats including REESE CUPS! I have been craving reeses something fierce and they do not exist over here so I was so happy to have them. Jared laughed because once I saw the Reeses, I literally hugged them close to me like a little kid! He took a picture of this passionate peanut butter cup embrace! :)

I'd say that our first holiday here in Switzerland was a memorable one for sure! Now, let the countdown begin! My parents will be here for the Christmas Holiday in only TWO WEEKS!!! :) So much to be thankful for right now! Hope that all of you enjoyed time with your families and friends.

Also,today is my big brother's birthday! Happy Birthday Jon!!! I hope it's your best year yet! Love you!!

Jared and I created this silly card for him:  http://sendables.jibjab.com/add_ecard_message/154077826

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things I'm Thankful For

I'm thankful for....

My amazing husband for showing me what real love is.

My family who has been there for all of my mistakes and loved me through them.

My nephews. For bringing an incomparable smile to my face each and every day. 

My Saviour. For loving me beyond comprehension and despite great faults.

My friends. For being individually awesome in every single way.

My cats. Life would be slightly less entertaining and a lot less cute if they weren't in the world.

Our rented home. I feel blessed to be where we are right now.

The internet. My constant connection to the world, especially when I'm this far away from loved ones.

All the men and women serving our country and protecting our freedoms.

Laughter. Life's remedy for just about everything.

Photography. This magical tool of capturing life's moments for the gift of revisiting those memories again and again.

YOU. I'm thankful for everyone out there who supports me in some way. I'm grateful for your kindness.

This list could go on forever. But I'll keep it short. My heart is full of gratitude. Even on my worst day, I have so much to be thankful for. I don't deserve any of it, but I am grateful for all of it.

Infinite thanks,


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Humble Thanks

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving so I wanted to take a moment and say THANK YOU. I'm so grateful for you. I'm so thankful that you take the time to read my blog. Even if you've never left a comment, I know you're there and that you care. I receive emails, comments and phone calls from so many who offer simple words of encouragement and gratitude in regards to my writings. I'm overwhelmed by your support. What started out as me simply updating family and friends on what's new in my life and putting my thoughts on virtual paper has now turned into something so much more. I have enjoyed countless connections and grown deeper friendships because of this humble little blog. I'm blown away by how awesome you all are. I am sincerely humbled that you all choose to be a part of my life. And for that, I am thankful. My life would not be the same without you.

I hope you all enjoy a blessed Thanksgiving. But please remember, you don't need a holiday to be thankful. Stay grateful all year round. Don't miss the every day blessings you can be thankful for throughout the year.



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: Give AND Recieve

Last week on my blog I shared how you can make online wish lists for the holidays. Well, I recently discovered an even better way to shop online! Check out the website: GOODSHOP.COM

It helps you find and buy gifts from partnering stores like Amazon, Best Buy, Macy's and Target and when you make a purchase, up to 20% is donated to the charity of your choice! It's like double the giving!  All you need to do is go through www.goodshop.com first. Select your charity and then move on to your desired website, such as Amazon.com. Goodshop will remember your charity selection and will donate up to 20% of your purchase!

Not only are you getting your holiday shopping for others done, but you're helping out your favourite charity. You were going to spend money at your favourite shop(s) anyway so why not have some of that money go to a worthy cause?! I think it's a great way to give and receive.

Happy Shopping! :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mental Vitamins: Twelve Extraordinary Women Series - Lydia

We've come to the final chapter in the book Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur which means this is the last of the ladies to discuss. MacArthur ends with Lydia, who is best remembered as the original convert for the gospel in Europe. She was the first to respond to the message of Christ during the apostle Paul's original missionary journey to Europe.

image by Elspeth Young

Lydia's story is brief but compelling. Paul received a revelation that called him to travel to Europe and continue his ministry there. Paul and his group of missionaries went to Philippi (a Greek city-state) which proved to be a strategic place for introducing the gospel to Europe. Paul's typical evangelical strategy was to take the gospel first to the local synagogue, because if he went to straight to the Gentiles first, the Jews would never listen to anything he had to say. Philippi, however, was a thoroughly Gentile town with no synagogue.

According to tradition, in communities without synagogues, Jewish women could pray together in groups if they so chose, but men had to form a legitimate minyan (requiring a quorum of at least ten Jewish men) before they could partake in any kind of formal, public prayer or worship. Since Philippi's Jewish community was apparently not large enough to form a minyan, Paul and company learned of the place where Jewish women gathered to pray on the Sabbath and they went there instead (Acts 16:13). It was there that we are first introduced to Lydia. Luke describes his first meeting with her this way: A certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God" (Acts 16:14).

Luke describes Lydia as a woman who "worshiped God". She knew of God, and she apparently gathered with Jewish women to pray on the Sabbath but she had not yet converted to Judaism. Luke also records that Lydia "heard us"(Acts 16:14). She listened intently to Paul and his companions explain the gospel message. Her heart was truly open, she was a genuine seeker of God. But the emphasis Luke makes is that it was not Lydia who opened her own heart and ears to the truth. She was listening, but it was God who gave her ears to hear. She had an open heart but it was God who opened her heart. Luke affirms the sovereignty of God in Lydia's salvation: "The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul" (Acts 16:14).

Many of us struggle with this truth. If it were not for God's sovereign work drawing us to Christ and opening the hearts of we as sinners to believe, no one would ever be saved. We are powerless to change our own hearts or turn from evil in order to do good because the love of evil is part of our fallen nature. Our will is bent in accordance to what we love and that leaves us totally at the mercy of sinful lusts. But salvation - all of it - is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith is God's gift to the believer. We don't reach down into our own hearts and summon faith from within by sheer willpower. God is the one who opens our hearts to trust and believe.

I think all Christians  have some understanding of this truth. That is why we pray for the salvation of our loved ones. We also know in our hearts that we cannot boast of being wiser or more learned than those who still do not believe because we know that our salvation is completely the work of God's irresistible grace. Many non-believers view Christians as arrogant for our belief that there is only one way and one God but for those who fully understand salvation we are humbled because we know that it is not an award for intelligence or superiority. Salvation is not something that can be earned, it is a gift God freely gives to all those who humbly seek His grace. Salvation does not make Christians any more intelligent or righteous, it simply means we have humbly submitted to the One who has offered us true, incomparable freedom. Don't twist this significant language though. Grace doesn't force or coerce sinners against their wills toward Christ; it draws them willingly to Him - by first opening up their heart. It enables us to see our sin for what it is and empowers us to despise the sins we formerly loved. It also equips us to see Christ for who he truly is. Someone whose heart has been opened like that will inevitably find Christ Himself to be irresistible. The description of Lydia's converison is captured beautifully...the Lord simply opened her heart to believe - and she did.

Scripture shares that after Lydia's heart and mind had been opened to the truth of God's word she then began also opening her home to Paul and his missionary team and hosting what would be the first church ever established in Europe!

I hope you enjoyed the nuggets of truth and life lessons from this book. I believe it was written simply for deeper reflection on God's word and the extraordinary lives in it as well as for our own personal and spiritual growth. I hope that you were able to identify that all of these women had one thing thing in common and that was that their lives were made exceptional through the result of God's work in their heart. Christ is the common denominator in terms of living an extraordinary life. I hope that this dialogue has sparked a fire within you...a burning desire to learn more about our awe-inspiring Saviour and the purpose He has for your life. I pray that your heart will be opened.

NOTE: If you are interested in my reviews on the rest of this series you can read them *HERE*

Friday, November 19, 2010

Feature: Holiday Wish List

Christmas is only about a month away and I don't know about you, but I like to do my holiday shopping early! I typically shop throughout the year and set aside gifts as I find them. I've been known to buy Christmas presents as early as June. The ideal part about shopping early is 1. you can find great deals during the off season, 2. less financial stress when December rolls around 3. you don't have to fight the crowds at the mall! Don't get me wrong...I'm usually one of the crazy people at the After Thanksgiving Sale aka: "Black Friday" but if I can avoid it by getting my shopping done beforehand, I will!

Some people are harder to buy for though so I always seem to have at
 least one last minute gift but shopping for these people could be much easier if they made an online wish list! Lots of websites have this option now. It's basically like a gift registry. You go to your favourite store(s) and find items you like then click the "add to my wish list" button. Then when someone asks "what would you like for Christmas?", you can direct them to your wish list and they'll know exactly what you have your eyes on! :)  *note: not all websites offer wish list options

I suggest filling out a wish list on Amazon.com because they have just about everything you can imagine offering a variety of options for people to choose from when shopping and it's a website most people are familiar with. I would also add a few of your own personal favourite stores that you frequently shop at. Those who are shopping for you can go to these websites where you are "registered", type in your name or email address and easily find your wish list. It's a good idea to be registered at several different locations with various price ranges because you will most likely not get everything you like or want but it gives shoppers a wide range of options to choose from.

It's fun to do online shopping. You avoid long lines and crazy shoppers and can have items shipped directly to your door. Less stress, less hassle. There are often online discounts and promos you can take advantage of too.

I'm already getting my Christmas wish. My parents are going to be here for the holidays and I'm beyond excited!! I never expect to receive gifts from anyone, for me, that is not what Christmas is about. But I still had fun filling out online wish lists anyway. It's like faux shopping...which is the next best thing to real shopping! :) Now if only international shipping were free....

Here are a few places I am registered:






What's on your Christmas list this year? Share your wish lists below!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Things I Love: Ice Cream

My very first job was at Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor when I was sixteen and not only did I enjoy working with all my friends (literally, I worked with all my closest friends) but I enjoyed sampling all the new flavors and eating ice cream....like it was my job! :) I didn't just enjoy eating the ice cream though, I also loved making fresh waffle cones. The smell should be bottled as perfume! I liked decorating the ice cream cakes as well. I got pretty good at making flowers with the icing.

But I don't just love ice cream because it is delicious, I also have so many sweet (pun intended) memories associated with it. These are a few of them....

Working in an ice cream shop with all of my best friends in high school definitely made for some great memories...work is always better when you are surrounded by people you would love to be with outside of work too. I also made some new and life long friends while working there....yes, I'm talking specifically about you J! - Favourite customer turned friend hands down! :)

Ice cream dates...there is something so adorably romantic about sharing an ice cream cone with your sweetheart. Jared and I have been on many ice cream dates together.

The ice cream man....I remember summer's at my grandpa's in Florida and getting so excited when we heard that musical truck coming down the street. I always got the ice cream bar shaped like a ninja turtle with bubble gum eyes.(You didn't know my love for ninja turtles was so deep, did you?)

Family nights...when I was young my parents would take my brother and I to a little ice cream stand just down the road from us. It was a sweet treat we all enjoyed together often. Once I got older I loved taking my nephews to this same ice cream shop. Shout out to Terre Haute's Green Acres! :)

Birthdays...after working at Baskin Robbins and discovering their dangerously good Turtle Pie, I requested it as my birthday cake nearly every year. It was a cookie crumb crust, praline and cream ice cream and topped with caramel sauce and whipped cream. I had a lot of sweet birthdays! :)
Ice cream makes people happy. At least in my experience. So I believe that when you're in the company of someone you love and you are enjoying your favourite ice cream....life is just about as good as it gets! :)

Here are some of my favourite ice cream treats:

Pralines and Cream in a waffle cone

Piña Colada Ice Cream

Reese's Cup Blizzard

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Mint Chocolate Chip Shake

Baskin Robbins Cappuccino Blast

White Chocolate FrozenYogurt with Gummy Bears
(to satisfy the 8-year-old in me)

What are your favourite ice cream treats/memories? I'd love to hear them. Leave a comment below!

(all images are from google search)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lovely Lutry

Jared and I went on a photo adventure together recently. It was fun to discover all the sweet spots that are within walking distance from our apartment. We live in the cutest little town. As we wandered around it felt as though we had gone back in time. Cobblestone streets, tiny "mom and pop shops"...the whole setting here is quaint and humble. We have only seen a glimpse of this beautiful country and I can't wait to discover more of what it has to offer.

Here are a few photos I took around the lovely little town of Lutry.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review: Mañana Mexican Restaurant - Lausanne, Switzerland

For our 3 year wedding anniversary, Jared and I went to Mañana Mexican Restaurant in Lausanne, Switzerland. The restaurant itself was cozy and decorated with a little Latin flair. We were told they had live music downstairs in the Cactus Club which is an attached bar/dance club but I think perhaps we were there too early to experience it or they just didn't have live music the night we went. Not sure which. They did have Latin music playing during dinner though, it just wasn't live.

The food was very good. However, like everything else in Switzerland it was a bit pricey and the portions were much smaller than what you expect at a Mexican restaurant in the United States. I enjoyed a piña colada with dinner and it was phenomenal. Again, a bit pricey compared to what we as Americans are used to but I think it was worth the splurge. Another plus about it was our waiter spoke English. Very helpful for those of us who don't speak French. Makes the experience less frustrating and stressful.

I would rate it as a definite do again. If you are ever in the area I would definitely give it a try! The food, the atmosphere, the drinks, the service...all get a thumbs up from me. Here are a few photos from our dinner experience. (sorry there are no images of our actual dinner...we were too hungry to think about pictures obviously! haha)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mental Vitamins: Twelve Extraordinary Women Series - Mary Magdalene

For those who may have just stumbled upon my blog, I have recently been reading and sharing from the book Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur. Each week I highlight a new woman and offer a discussion.

This week's extraordinary woman is Mary Magdalene, who is perhaps one of the best-known and least-understood names in scripture. There aren't a lot of details about her life and personal background but she is well-known as being the first person to whom Christ revealed Himself after the resurrection. MacArthur explains some of the myths in connection with Mary Magdelene. I won't go into detail on that here, her life according to Scripture is extraordinary enough without the false embellishment. My focus will be on the confirmed details surrounding Mary Magdalene's life.

Mary Magdalene did have a dark past. She was a woman whom Christ liberated from demonic bondage. Luke introduced her as "Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons" (Luke 8:2). It's the only real detail we are given about Mary's past.

The symptoms of demonic possession varied. Some demoniacs were insane, as in the case of the two demon-possessed men who lived in the graveyard and behaved so monstrous that no one dared approach them (Matt 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-5). More frequently, demonic possession was manifest in physical infirmities, such as blindness, deafness, an inability to speak, fits and seizures and general illness. Don't confuse these symptoms of demonic possession as manifestations of epilepsy, dementia or other psychological afflictions. Scripture makes a clear distinction between demon possession and diseases (Matthew 4:24). Demon possession involves bondage to an evil spirit - a real, fallen spirit-creature - that dwells in the afflicted individual

In every case demon possession is portrayed as an affliction, not a sin, per se. Lawlessness, superstition and idolatry undoubtably have a role in opening a person's heart to demonic possession, but demonized individuals  are always portrayed as tormented people, not willful villains. Scripture presents them to us as victims with utterly ruined lives. Mary Magdalene was one such victim. Satan tormented her with seven demons. Scripture deliberately and mercifully omits the details of her dreadful demon possession but we are given enough information through other demonic possession accounts  to know that she must have been a tortured soul. With so many demons afflicting her she may likely have been what most people regarded as an "unrecoverable lunatic".

The miraculous twist to her story is that Christ delivered her from all that. How and when she was set free is not spelled out for us. It seems her former demonization is only mentioned for the purpose of revealing Christ's goodness and grace toward her. It highlights God's power over evil and His ability to overcome even the darkest and most hopeless of situations.

After Jesus had set Mary free from her evil bondage, her love for Christ reflected her profound depth of gratitude and she joined the close circle of disciples who traveled with Jesus.. Mary Magdalene was a faithful disciple even when others turned their back on Him. No doubt her loyalty stemmed from the fact that He saved her from a life of demonic torment and because of that she understood that He could also save her from a life of eternal torment in hell. She followed him to the cross and subsequently to the grave. In fact, she secretly followed Joseph to the tomb and "observed where He was laid" (Mark 15:47). So it was thanks to Mary Magdalene that the disciples even learned where Jesus' body was buried. She watched as Jospeh and Nicodemus carelessly and hastily prepared Jesus' body and left Him alone in the tomb and she came with ointment and spices for one final expression of love to her Saviour - to whom she knew she owed everything. There was evidently no thought of resurrection in Mary Magdalene's mind.

The apostle John , eyewitness to some of the dramatic events of that morning, gives the best description:

 1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. 

 11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
   “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” (John 20:1-13)

Mary's first inclination was to assume that someone had stolen Jesus' body. When she looked inside the tomb for the second time, two angels appeared and they spoke to her saying: "He is not here; for He is risen" (Matthew 28:6) Then the angels instructed her and the others to "Go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead" (Matthew 28:7). At that point, all but Mary Magdalene ran out to share the marvelous news. Mary seemed to have stayed outside the tomb and continued to grieve over Christ's missing body. Perhaps she was in shock and had not understood the angel when he shared the news that Jesus was not dead, but that He had risen...He was ALIVE! So the angel came and spoke directly to her: "Woman why are you weeping?" And between sobs she replied "They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him." (John 20:13)

It was then that she turned and saw Jesus. Though she did not recognize Him at first and pleaded with Him to show her where they had taken the body of Christ. All He had to say was her name and she instantly recognized Him. "He calls His own sheep by name... [and] they know His voice" (John 10:3-4). Mary's grief instantly turned to inexpressible joy.

Can you imagine it?! Become Mary for a moment. Imagine standing in front of the resurrected Lord - the Saviour of all humanity - who everyone thought was dead - and realize for the first time that He is ALIVE in front of you and a mere arm's length away. Can you imagine being the first one to see His face and embrace Him with a hug? It must have been hard for her to ever let go! The pure joy she must have felt at that moment. No drug or other esteemed pleasure could ever amount to that feeling. What a blessing she received. She was the first to have seen and touched the Lord after He conquered death. She was the first to experience the full extent of God's love for us. That must have been one powerful hug!

I believe that Mary Magdalene was blessed with this unmatched honour because of her faithfulness and devotion to Christ. It's a testament that despite the fact that our past may be filled with darkness, our future's can be made bright in Jesus and by trusting in Him we can be delivered from darkness. All that is required is deep faith and reverence. I don't know about you but I cannot wait for the day where I can share an EPIC hug with Christ! What a monumental day that will be!

Friday, November 12, 2010


After posting our anniversary video on wednesday's blog I was overwhelmed by the response! All of the sweet words from friends and family were ironically humbling. Several people left comments, sent emails and even called to share their love and support for us. They were all touching and meant so much! I guess I'm humbled at the thought that there are so many incredible people in our lives who take the time to show us love. I'm so grateful to be surrounded by these amazing people. We love and cherish all of you! THANK YOU! You made our anniversary even more memorable! Perhaps another photo montage is in the future - one that highlights our wonderful friendships! :)

I also received several personal messages from young women who have shared that they are "inspired" by our love and that despite the fact that they have experienced  their share of disappointing and failed relationships...our relationship gives them something to look forward to..."a kind of hope to hold on to..hope that true love exists." While I am beyond flattered by this, I could read between the lines and sensed the pain and brokenness in their tone. I sensed it, because I have shared similar emotions. So I felt a need to bring to light what so many women seem to be going through. But first, I want to add a sort of disclaimer before I get into this discussion. I am not perfect, my relationship is not perfect and I don't claim to have all the answers. But I am genuine when I say, my intentions are sincere. I want to share my experiences with others openly and honestly in hopes that I make a positive difference in even just one life. You may not agree with everything I share here, but my words are meant to be constructive and shared in love.

I want all women who are reading this to know....I have been where you are. I have shared the same anxiousness, confusion and questions that you are dealing with. I have dated my share of duds. I have been single. Dumped. Cheated on. Broken-hearted. Confused. Vulnerable. Abused. And in every possible way, I've been wronged. We're not so different, you and I. I can relate to feeling like there are absolutely no good guys left out there. I know how it feels to be let down - in some way or another - by every guy that comes into your life.

Jared and I did not start dating seriously until we were both 24. Before that time, my dating experiences were less than pleasant. And I get asked all the time, how did you know it was love? I am fortunate enough that I can pinpoint the exact moment in time when I realized Jared was the man I would share the rest of my life with. But there were many moments leading up to then that also shaped that decision. Afterall, love is exactly that...a decision...a choice. Once love is forced it is not love anymore. With all of the guys I dated, I was trying to force the relationship to be something it wasn't. I was so in love with the idea of being in love that I lost sight of what love really was and how love was meant to be given and received.

There are so many differences between Jared and all the rest of the guys I dated...but the major difference is, he respects me. He was willing to be just my friend (without benefits) and he cared so much about me that he always had my best intentions in mind, not selfish intentions like every other guy. He showed me that true love is much deeper than anything we could ever physically give to each other. And if we are completely honest with ourselves, what we all want is someone to love our heart...love us for who we are not what we can give them. I always knew what I didn't want. The guys I was dating were a big "help" in discovering what I did NOT want. Jared was the one who showed me what I needed.

I've said this before and I'll say it again...anyone who doesn't think twice about being physical with you before the commitment of marriage does not have your best interest in mind. If a relationship is based on physical or emotional gain then the intentions are not pure, they are not noble and the love is not authentic. This is not to say that authentic love can't still be achieved after you have become physically intimate, but it is much more difficult because physical intimacy tends to cloud our judgment. I look back at my past relationships and realize it was all about physical gain for the guys I dated. I was nothing more than a collection of body parts, a conquest, a temporary goal. They did not see me for what I truly am which is a valuable woman worthy to be treasured. And I was guilty of compromising myself for emotional gain. I thought being physically intimate proved deepness and devotion. Both approaches were unhealthy and neither of us were experiencing authentic love.

I think we as women want so desperately to be loved that our desperation makes us do things that we really don't want to do. We compromise ourselves for the sake of false love. Truth is, we are worth so much more than temporary pleasures and empty promises. But we teach guys how to treat us. We must show them we are valuable beyond physical measures. A real man knows your worth and wants to treasure you. Don't cheat yourself by settling for second best. Don't sell yourself short for someone who refuses to pay full price. You are not on sale...you are priceless.  Never forget that. Embrace it. 

And please remember that being single is not a curse. Singleness can be God's way of using you to do His great work INDIVIDUALLY. There are many women in history who were single and are remembered for doing extraordinary things. Don't place your worth in someone else. Establish your own dreams and goals and accomplishments according to God's plan for you personally and then when God's pick comes into your life...you will be able to share all of those things with him. For now, enjoy the life you have been given.

Hope this was helpful and encouraging.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Things I Love: MY HUSBAND!

Stating the obvious here: I Love My Husband!

Today is our three year wedding anniversary so what better to blog about than my masterpiece of a husband?! I still can't believe he's mine. These past three years have been the best years of my life!

In honour of our anniversary, I'm going to list a few things about my husband that I love. Things that I appreciate about him and reasons for why I think he's pretty darn awesome! :) This list could go on forever but I'll try to keep it short.

Things I Love About Jared:

1. His heart. This is a man who has devoted his life to trying to help people on a global scale. He's the man who took my cat to the vet on his final day so that I wouldn't have to endure the pain of saying goodbye. He's the man who comforts me when life gets overwhelming.  He's the romantic that brings me "no reason roses" and leaves me love notes just to show he's thinking of me. He has a huge heart and I love to call it home.

2. His humor. My life will never be boring. He always keeps me laughing. His bursts of randomness have become a fundamental part of my days. I never know what he's going to do or say...and that's the beauty of it. I often tell him "You're crazy!" and his response is always the same "I'm keeping you young!" :) He's taught me how to not take myself so seriously!

3. His faith.  His tremendous faith has caused me to grow in my own. And I love that he loves God. His love for Christ is carried over into how he loves me and how he cares for others. By seeking God first He is setting the tone for our marriage, and other friendships and social relationships. What better role model is there than the Creator of love and strength and good? His pursuit of God is something I admire most about him.

4. His smile. The first thing that attracted me to him was his smile. I remember watching him from one table over on the cruise that night we first met and how his smile was so genuine, so illuminate and so contagious. I absolutely love the little creases next to his eyes when he smiles. It's like his whole faces smiles with him. Love it.

5. His brain. I appreciate his ability to take complex ideas and concepts and break them down into analogies so that I can better understand. I am fascinated by his ability to approach science and all aspects of creative knowledge with eagerness and ease. Intelligence seems to come natural for him. He's my human internet. :) And I so admire the wisdom in his words. He has taught me more about life than I could have ever learned on my own.

There are SO many things I love about my amazing husband but these were just a quick few. I am so incredibly blessed to not only know him, but to have the honour of enjoying this life together as his wife. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Anniversary, My Darling!

Tomorrow is our 3 year wedding anniversary. For those who may not know our story....

Jared and I met in the middle of the ocean...on a cruise ship in July of 2003. You can read our detailed love story HERE. We were married on 11/11/07....a year exactly from the moment I realized he was the one. And here were are...three years later and even more in love than ever! I feel incredibly lucky to be able to enjoy life with such an amazing man who I can call my husband, my lover and my best friend. I never could have imagined that the summer of '03 would be the beginning of so much happiness and that we would now be happily married living here in Switzerland! It's amazing where love can lead you.

So to celebrate our love I put together a collection of photos and set them to music and surprised Jared with this video slideshow. I was in tears when I watched it. Tears of absolute happiness and thankfulness.
I am completely, perfectly and incandescently happy!

I am the luckiest.

Happy Anniversary, My Darling. I love you to the moon and back!

Music by Ron Pope, Drop In The Ocean

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: Rosetta Stone

Learning a foreign language is no easy task but with a program like Rosetta Stone it makes learning a second language (or third in my case) a little easier. Jared and I bought the 1st Level of the French program before our move and although we have not been consistent with it. It definitely has taught us some common words and phrases in French that are helpful for every day.

The Rosetta Stone software uses a combination of images, text, and sound, with difficulty levels increasing as you progress. Basically, you get graded for each section you complete and I'm proud to say that we have scored all A's! :) We still have a lot to learn about the French language but I believe this program got us off on the right foot. Being immersed in the culture and language helps too.

 So if you've been considering learning a foreign language I would definitely recommend the Rosetta Stone language learning program. While it's pricey...it is definitely worth it when you consider the benefits of being able to communicate with more people...especially if that language is now the primary language spoken where you live.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Twelve Extraordinary Women Series - Martha & Mary

In this chapter of the Twelve Extraordinary Women series we meet two extraordinary women - Martha and Mary. These two women were a fascinating pair, very different in may ways but alike in one important respect: both of them loved Christ. They became beloved personal friends of Jesus during His earthly ministry. Scripture records that "Jesus loved Martha and her sister". (John 11:5) We're not told how this family became so close with Jesus but in whatever way this relationship began, it obviously developed into a deeply personal fellowship.

The fact that Jesus actively pursued friendships shows us the kind of man He was. The picture society enjoys painting of Jesus is one that is anything but friendly...but Scripture shows us that He treasured His friendships and relationships. He didn't simply have "followers" He had many loved friends. Even to this day, Jesus doesn't simply want us to be an acquaintance He wants to be our friend and for us to have a loving relationship with Him. According to the Bible, Martha and Mary clearly cherished their friendship with Jesus.

One of the most memorable encounters we have with these sisters is during the death and subsequent resurrection of their brother, Lazarus. John gives a detailed description of how distressed the women were over the loss of their brother and how Jesus ministered to them in their grief, how He mourned with them, and how He gloriously raised Lazarus from the dead. More than any other act of Jesus, that one dramatic and very public miracle was what finally sealed the Jewish leader's determination to put Him to death because they knew that if He could raise people from the dead, people would follow Him, and the leaders would lose their power. They refused to believe or even consider that His power to give life was proof that He was exactly who He claimed to be: God the Son.

Martha and Mary understood that Jesus had put Himself at risk in order to give them back the life of their brother. Scripture reveals the full depth of Mary's intense gratitude and records how she anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive oils and wiped His feet with her hair. (John 12) She must have suspected that the resurrection of her brother would have driven Jesus' enemies to hatred and determination to put Him to death. It is in all likelihood that the earlier incident from scripture (Luke 7:36-50) where a repentant prostitute  had once anointed Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair came to Mary's mind. She knew the lesson Jesus taught from that situation: "Her sins, which are many are forgiven, for she loved much". Mary's reenactment was probably her deliberate replication of that incident, to signify how much she also loved Jesus and how grateful she was to Him. Both Matthew and Mark indicate that Jesus' willingness to accept such a lavish expression of worship is what prompted Judas's decision to betray Jesus. Despite all of God's holy examples of kindness, mercy and loving intentions...people still hated Him and the pride of men would be at the root of their hatred.

The main focus of this chapter is that famous incident when Jesus gave Martha a mild reprimand and strong lesson about where her real priorities should be and the dangers of self-pride. Scripture says:

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she has a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."
And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42)

When it came to hospitality, Martha took her hostess duties very seriously and wanted everything to be just right. She was a conscientious and considerate hostess - traits that were very admirable. Jesus was the perfect houseguest. He enjoyed the fellowship and conversation, His contributions to the discussion were enlightening, and thought-provoking. Everyone in attendance was no doubt fully engaged in Jesus' instructive conversation, Mary's instinct was to sit at His feet and listen. Martha, however, kept right on working with her preparations. Soon, Martha became irritated with Mary not helping her. I can just imagine the scene.... Martha subtly hints to Mary that she needs her help by exhaling deeply, clearing her throat or even banging around in the kitchen to stir her sister's attention. After all of her attempts failed she marches right up to Jesus and airs her complaints against Mary. His response probably shocked her. It obviously did not occur to her that she was the one in the wrong.

Some important lessons emerge from Jesus' reprimand of Martha. Humility had been a constant theme in Jesus' teachings and is a difficult lesson for most of us to learn. Martha's external behavior at first appeared to be admirable. She was working hard to serve others at this gathering. But her treatment of Mary revealed a serious defect in her servant's heart. Her words in front of other guests were certainly to humiliate Mary. She either didn't think that her words would be hurtful or she simply did not care. Either way, she assumed that Mary was being lazy but in reality, Mary's heart was in the right place. Martha's behavior shows how subtly human pride can corrupt even the best of our actions.

Martha appears to be acting as a servant to all, just as Christ had so often commanded. She no doubt began with the best of motives and intentions but the moment that she made something other than Christ the focus of her heart and attention, her perspective became very self-centered. At that point, even her service to Christ became tainted and self-absorbed. Martha was showing an attitude of sinful pride that made her susceptible to other kinds of sinful behaviour: anger, resentment, jealousy, distrust, judgmentalism, and unkindness. All of that flared up in Martha in a matter of minutes. Worst of all, Martha's words criticized and challenged the Lord Himself: "Lord, do You not care....?" and fell into an all-too-common religious trap described by Paul: "They measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."

Mary, on the other hand, understood the true importance of the occasion, that the Lord Himself was a guest in their home. And she became so absorbed in Jesus' every word that she became oblivious to everything else. Listening to Him and worshiping Him was at that moment the best use of her energy and the right place for her focus. The stark contrast between the two women is clearly Mary's willingness to sit still, listen and ponder and Martha's inclination to act or more accurately - react.

I, myself, have been guilty of behaving like Martha. It's easy for us as humans to lose track of what is really important and it's frustratingly easy to get distracted by the world around us. Pride is something we all struggle with. The trouble with pride is it is easy to misinterpret. Just as with Martha's example...we may THINK we are doing what is good and right....but are our intentions pure? Do we have a servants heart or a selfish heart? What is motivating our actions? These are questions we must ask ourselves everyday. We might be able to fool others, and even fool ourselves into thinking we have the best intentions but God sees our hearts. So in everything we do, we should seek to glorify God, not others and certainly not ourselves.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Feature: National Adoption Month

I have been anxiously awaiting for Friday to get here...not simply because the weekend officially begins for me on Friday but because I couldn't wait to blog about National Adoption Month!

November is National Adoption Month which adds one more reason to the list of why November is my favourite month! All month long various groups and organizations promote the beauty of adoption and I want to be a part of that because adoption truly is a beautiful thing.

There are so many personal stories of how adoption has positively changed lives. One story that has recently grabbed the attention of millions is the story of Catelynn and Tyler from the popular T.V. show, Teen Mom. I am a HUGE supporter of these two young people not simply because of the selfless decision that they made to give the gift of adoption for their daughter Carly but because they are showing the world that despite all the adversity, the pressures and the difficulties they have faced, they continue to put their daughter first and are doing a wonderful job of handling such a big decision each day. As you watch the show you can see them maturing. You can see their love for their daughter and each other grow. And you witness the special bond between both the biological parents and the adoptive parents. It's beautiful.

Catelynn and Tyler were on an episode of the first season of 16 and Pregnant and this is where their beautiful story began. I encourage you to watch this episode but only if you have a box of kleenexes nearby. It brings a little glimpse of the reality of not only teen pregnancy but the positive impact a child can have on families. It's truly inspiring.

Their story is just one of many. There are so many children who need families, there are so many couples who desire children, and there are so many happy families because of the beauty of adoption. Adoption brings families together in such a monumental way!

So if you or someone you know is considering adoption or if they seem to have a false idea about the true beauty of adoption then I encourage you to visit or share this website: Adoption.com It is just one of the many wonderful adoption sites that offers a large selection of resources and information.

I want to end this with a few of my favourite adoption story videos. Please take a moment to watch them. Your heart will never be the same.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Things I Love: Sci-Fi

For the past week or so I have been watching a lot of science fiction films. When I was a little girl, some of my fondest memories of my dad are the days when I would curl up on his lap or next to him on the couch and we would watch sci-fi movies together. He introduced me to all the greats and I still have a huge love for science fiction films to this day. I remember not long after Jared and I were married, he thanked my dad for sharing his love of sci-fi with me because Jared too is a big fan and it is one more thing we can enjoy together. :) Even now, if a good sci-fi film comes out I always try and go with my dad.

Here are a few of my favourite sci-fi films of all time.

10. Enemy Mine - this was one of my favourites to watch with my dad. I was fascinated by "Jerry".

9. Men In Black - cheesey yet entertaining

8. E.T. - I remember crying as a child when E.T. became sick and turned white. I also remember dressing up my childhood dog, who was a pug, in a sheet and pretending she was E.T. :)

7.  Inception - mind blowing awesome!

6. Equilibrium - incredible futuristic storyline with outstanding direction from Kurt Wimmer

5.  Time Bandits - midgets, time travel and famous faces - including a few from Monty Python...can't go wrong with that! :)
4. Predator - I was probably eight when I watched the first Predator film with my dad and I remember him saying "Now remember, this isn't real, and your mom would not be happy if she knew I was letting you watch this so keep that in mind" HaHa! Love you Papa!

3. Back to the Future - Marty McFly owns time travel!

2. Star Wars - I prefer the original films and my favourite of those is Return of the Jedi

1. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - hands down, favourite sci-fi film of all time - the author of the book, Douglas Adams, is brilliant!

It was hard to narrow my list down to just ten so here are a few honorable mentions: District 9, Iron Giant, Spaceballs, Donnie Darko, The Thing, Avatar, Surrogates, Cloverfield, Pandorum, Jurassic Park

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Beautiful Redundance

Not to seem redundant but I want to share with you another beautiful sunset I had the honour of witnessing tonight. I know I posted one last week, but every sunset, is unique (there are no two sunsets that will ever be the same) and they are all equally breathtaking. This one was unique in that I went exploring around Switzerland for the first time on my own. (usually when I go out, Jared is with me.) But I felt brave enough today to really venture out and explore my wonderful new surroundings. (at least...what is within walking distance)

We are literally about a 15 minute walk from Lake Geneva and when I reached lakeside I was awestruck. I know it was written all over my face because some Swiss folk that were passing by looked at me like "what is going on with this girl?" My jaw was to my feet, my eyes wide and frozen...I didn't want to blink for fear it would disappear or I would miss something. The sun was sparkling on the water, birds were singing, the mountains were towering in majestic blue. It was picture perfect.

I found a bench and I just sat there listening to all the wonderful sounds and taking in the beautiful view for more than an hour. It felt so peaceful. So revitalizing. So pure. I snapped a few photos and took a quick video and then just enjoyed it, savored it, and took it all in until the sun finally began to disappear and it got too chilly to stay any longer.

Why am I telling you all this? Not to brag, that is certainly not who I am. But to share with you a little glimmer of God's beautiful glory. We (including myself) can get so caught up in the mundane or the difficulties in life and we fail to stop and embrace the beauty that God has given us. For me today, that beauty was a sunset. For you...perhaps it was your grandchild's laugh or your husband's kiss or a stranger's smile. There is beauty woven into each and every one of our days and they are graced upon us by a God who simply wants to show us He loves us. He could have made a world without color...but He didn't. He's not a boring God, He's an AWESOME God. And our world is alive with His vibrant beauty...all we have to do is look around and appreciate it.

I'm thankful to God for giving me this beautiful sunset today.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review Tuesday: EPIC ALLIANCE

I have some exciting news!!

I have been collaborating with the Wabash Valley Crisis Pregnancy Center in Terre Haute, Indiana to create a global movement specifically for teens and young adults and this vision has become one of my proudest accomplishments to date.

My greatest passion in life is to help people become better people. Not better in that they were ever bad to begin with, but better in that a positive change has made them exceed even their own highest expectations. I have had many life experiences that have led me to this place where I feel young adults need to be my focus. And as many of you know, I actually started sharing  my testimony and had some public speaking opportunities at a few local high schools with the goal of encouraging self value and healthy relationships.

With those opportunities I was able to see the impact I was having on small classrooms and dreamed of the possibilities of reaching more people on a much larger scale. So with the encouragement and sponsorship of the CPC and many others, as well as the Divine inception of this dream to empower and inspire,  Epic Alliance came into existence.
Epic Alliance is an international effort with the goal, purpose and passion of empowering people with knowledge and inspiring change in how we treat ourselves and each other. With all the negative messages out there about love and relationships I wanted to encourage the concept the we all are EPIC and deserve EPIC love! No more settling, no more hook-ups and one-night stands that lead to nothing but heartache, no more lies, no more regret...just real, authentic love.

I wanted the whole outlook and appearance to be something that young adults could relate to and really get into. I am tired of all the cheesey, adult-engineered websites and groups that promote abstinence. So if I'm sick of them and feel they are lame then I KNOW teens think they are lame. And as we all know...if something doesn't appear to be "cool" in the eyes of a young person, then they are going to completely ignore the message behind it, no matter how good the message is. But respecting yourself and others IS cool....so I tried to reflect that in every aspect of this project!

So I encourage you to check out the website which is now live at: www.epicalliance.net or find us on FACEBOOK

There is lots of good info, cool t-shirts (that will be available for purchase soon) and even some refreshing tunes you can check out! I put a lot of time and effort into designing the website, the t-shirts, and every last detail surrounding this endeavor...even in coming up with the name. So please, take a moment to check it out and I encourage you to share this with your friends and family. Help get the message out there!

Thank you for any and all support! It means the world to me and believe it or not, it means so much to our future generations.

God bless.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Twelve Extraordinary Women Series - The Samaritan Woman

 This week's Extraordinary Woman is simply known as The Samaritan Woman. Her name is not mentioned in the Bible, but when you learn of her story, you will realize that her name bears little importance in comparison to the significance surrounding her life.

 In John Chapter 4 we meet an unnamed Samaritan woman with a rather scandalous background. Jesus met her when she came to get water from a well, and the encounter transformed her whole life.

At first glance, much about the scene seems ordinary and unimportant. Here is an anonymous woman who performed the most mundane of ordinary tasks: drawing her daily ration of water for her household. She came alone, at an hour when she probably expected no one else to be at the well which was probably an indication of her status as an outcast. Jesus was traveling through on His way to Jerusalem and because he had no rope or bucket with which to draw water, He asked the woman to give Him a drink. This certainly does not appear to be a scene that would lead us to expect one of the most profound theological lessons in all the Bible was just ahead, but look closer, and it turns out that many details in this picture are enormously significant.

First of all, the well was spring-fed, so it's water is always fresh, pure, and cold. It is the only well, and the finest water, in the vicinity where stagnant springs seemed to abound. The existence of the well was deemed to be a token of God's grace and goodness upon the Israelites at that time.

In Jesus' era though, this ground was in Samaritan territory and is another surprising and significant detail about the setting. For Jesus to be in Samaria was unusual and possibly even scandalous. The Samaritans were considered unclean by the Israelites because of their pagan ways. Jesus was traveling from Jerusalem to Galilee and a look on any map reveals that the most direct route goes straight through Samaria. But in Jesus' time, any self-respecting Jew would always travel a different way, avoiding Samaria altogether.

Virtually everything about the setting becomes remarkable. It is unusual to find Jesus alone. It is also shocking that Jesus would intentionally seek out and have a conversation with a Samaritan woman like this one. It was astonishing even to her that any Jewish man would speak to her. In those days, it would have been outrageous of  Him to drink  from an unclean pitcher that belonged to an unclean woman.

Jesus simply asked for a drink from the woman. She immediately expressed surprise that He would even speak to her, much less drink after her and replies "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?". Jesus said, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water". She immediately understood that He was making an amazing claim and replied, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do you get that living water?". Jesus answered, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life". The woman replied "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw".

Jesus tells her to "Go, call your husband, and come here". She was suddenly embarrassed. The truth about her life was so scandalous that she could not admit it to Him. He seemed to be assuming she was a typical woman with a respectable home and honorable husband. But she was nothing like that and told him the very short and censored version: "I have no husband". But Jesus knew the full truth already and said to her: "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' for you have had five husbands and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly". Notice he did not call her a liar, he actually commended her for speaking truthfully. She wasn't denying her sin but she obviously was not proud of it either.

At this point a thousand thoughts must have gone through her head. She certainly must have wondered exactly who He was and how He knew so much about her. She then brought up what was to her mind the biggest point of religious conention between Jews and Samaritans: "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship". I think she genuinely hoped that this man who seemed to know everything could straighten out what seemed to be the fundamental debate of the ages: Who was right? The Jews or the Samaritans? Jesus gave her a brief but very potent answer in John 4:21-24.

"Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

First, He let her know that where you worship isn't the issue. True worshipers are defined by whom and how they worship - not where. We seem to get hung up on this even today. Church is not a building, it is a place of fellowship and worship that should be centered on faith and a relationship with Christ.

Second, He made it clear that religious tradition she had grown up in was totally false.  He was straight up about this and let her know exactly which faith had the foundation of truth.

Third, He subtly steered her back to the main subject by telling her that a new age was dawning and the era of the New Covenant was on the horizon.  She replied "I know that Messiah is coming. When He comes, He will tell us all things". And no sooner had she approached the subject of the Messiah, than Jesus said, "I who speak to you am He". The woman's response was typical of new believers who just had the burden of sin and guilt lifted - she wanted to share the good news with others. And notice that the first thing she told the men of her town was that Jesus had told her everything she had ever did....she was no longer hiding her sin. She was basking in the glow of forgiveness, and there is simply no shame in that. The contrast is beautiful. Scripture says that "Many Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified." She transformed from being a woman who people avoided and saw as an outcast to a woman of faith and messenger of truth. And her message was simple, she had found the Messiah, He knew everything about her sinful past but received her anyway.

What is staggeringly unexpected about this whole fantastic account is that Jesus chose this time and this place and this woman to be part of the setting where He would, for the first time ever, formally and explicitly unveil His true identity as the Messiah.

The fact that she is unnamed leads me to think that this seemingly lack of detail was purpose driven and also part of God's plan. Perhaps so that we could put our name in her place, as a sinner, as a lost person, and as someone who needs a Saviour. I think we can all somewhat relate to the Samaritan woman. We have all questioned "What is truth?", we all have done things in our past that we are not proud of, and we all are in need of God's saving grace.

Her story has made me all the more thankful for a Saviour who looks at me (and all of us) not simply as a sinner who needs to be avoided and looked down upon but as a person with potential who just needs His truth, love and grace to become someone truly extraordinary.