Monday, February 28, 2011

Mental Vitamins: Stop Worrying and Start Living

What's The Worry?

An average person's anxiety is focused on :

40% -- things that will never happen
30% -- things about the past that can't be changed
12% -- things about criticism by others, mostly untrue
10% -- about health, which gets worse with stress
8% -- about real problems that will be faced

So, 92% of our worries are nothing to worry about.

I used to let worry and anxiety consume me. I can still let my thoughts get away from me at times...I am human afterall. But when the reality of worry is broken down like this - it really helps me to get a hold of my fears and anxiousness. Truth is, worry accomplishes nothing. In fact, it does more harm than good. When we are anxious our focus is on the worry and not how to overcome whatever it is we are facing. And stress from our constant fear and anxiousness weakens us more because it is damaging to our health and well-being. 

My family often jokes about how my Mom's side of the family has the "worry wort gene" and often frets over nothing so I'm all too familiar with being worry stricken. It's apparently in my genes! ;) But I have learned from my own personal experiences that giving our worries over to God and trusting He will help us through any and all situations that will come up in our life is the best way to handle our anxiousness. Now, I don't mean give up and not try to actively fix our problems or expect God to do all the work - I mean acknowledge our struggles and surrender our weaknesses to Him so that WITH Him we can overcome.

 Here are a few verses to comfort and encourage during those stressful times we all face.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. -Philippians 4:6

Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  -Matthew 11:28

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
-Matthew 6:25-27

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up
. -Proverbs 12:25

I hope this found you encouraged and gave you strength to face the weeks ahead.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Feature: Taking Off The Blindfold & Exposing The Truth

I wanted to share with you the realities of what is going on surrounding whole-life efforts in the world as of recent mostly so that you can be informed AND encouraged. There is a lot of mixed media information and I want to strip it down to the facts.

For those who have been keeping up with my blog or who have been following reliable news sources you have heard about the undercover investigation videos lead by pro-life activist group, Live Action which capture Planned Parenthood employees in over 31 states, covering up cases of child sex abuse and the most recent videos reveal their willingness of child sex trafficking cover ups. These tapes are not manufactured and are not edited as the liberal media would like to claim. The full videos can be viewed at so you can verify their authenticity for yourself there. Something we all need to consider is that regardless of our opinion about abortion the facts of these events cannot be ignored. CHILDREN are at risk and we must put our political agendas aside and realize the reality of what is going on inside these clinics. The recent exposure is not an attack on women's rights or health care it is an effort to defend and protect children. Period.

Many have seemingly ignored these serious allegations of abortion providers, specifically Planned Parenthood themselves simply because abortion is closely tied to the issue and is a well-known controversial topic, but abortion aside, recent evidence has come forward that solidifies that the abuse cover up and sexual exploitation of women and children is no longer a possible concern, it is a real concern. Meaning REAL LIFE CASES of child abuse have gone unreported by Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics in our country.

Phill Kline is former Kansas Attorney General and during his term he was the first person to ever attempt to bring criminal charges against Planned Parenthood. He was quickly silenced when Planned Parenthood affiliates attacked his character claiming he had ulterior motives for the investigation because of his open pro-life position. Despite the fact that Kline was able to uncover and charge a Kansas Planned Parenthood with 107 criminal charges, - including 23 felonies - efforts of the corrupt Supreme Court of Kansas, ( 5 of which were appointed by the Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, well-known advocate and supporter of Planned Parenthood), to delay and deter Phill Kline’s efforts are ongoing.

Kline is currently facing unfounded ethical charges for when he was in office and charged Planned Parenthood. Why? Because Planned Parenthood and their friends in the Kansas Supreme Court want to send a message to other prosecutors that if you look into and charge them with criminal activity, we will professionally destroy you. They don't want the Truth to get out of what goes on behind closed doors in their clinics. They don't want the world to see just how corrupt they truly are.

Well, it looks like the attempt by Planned Parenthood and their "partners in crime" to silence the truth is actually shining an even brighter light on just how corrupt they are. Yesterday evidence came forward in the case against Kline that reveals exactly what he has been trying to expose all this time which is that real-life cases of child abuse covers ups have been happening inside Planned Parenthood for years. It has come to light that in a span of two short years, 249  abortions were performed on children under the age of 15. 166 of those cases were abortions performed on children under the age of 14 - some as young as 10 years-old. Of these documented abortions only 4 cases of rape and child abuse were reported to authorities by Planned Parenthood and former abortionist George Tiller. That's just in Kansas alone, and does not include the cover ups they do in other states. Here is a recent interview with Phill Kline himself talking about the lack of child abuse reporting by Planned Parenthood.

Let me make it clear what has happened here. Planned Parenthood failed to report child abuse in well over half of these cases. They are required BY LAW to report every single one of these cases to the authority and in not doing so they have become serial law breakers, put countless children back into the arms of their abusers and should therefor have their access to government funds immediately cut off and held accountable for their crimes.

Here is the speech Jean Schmidt (R-OH) presented to the house regarding the realities of Planned Parenthood practices giving true-life examples of child abuse cover up cases and shares why we should listen to the majority of Americans (60% of both pro-life and pro-choice people) who want to defund our nation's largest organized crime syndicate - Planned Parenthood.

Are your blindfolds off yet? These are innocent children. Children who have been sexually abused and exploited. The right thing for Planned Parenthood and other clinics to do is report this abuse and get help for these vulnerable children but they have chosen instead to aid and abet in the abuse of these victims. Every compassionate American should be outraged by this. We as adults should be protecting children and it is time we hold Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics accountable for their crimes against children.

The excuse that "Planned Parenthood provides other helpful services" is no longer acceptable. Are we really willing to ignore child abuse and sexual exploitation of women and minors just so we can get cheaper sexual health services and maintain easy access to abortions? Because if we do not hold Planned Parenthood accountable for these crimes that is exactly what we are promoting.

We MUST urge our Senators and President Obama to deny any more funding for these corrupt organizations who have shown time and time again their willingness to ignore the laws put in place to protect children. Take a moment now to contact your representatives and be a voice for these children. Together we can help to end the injustice.

You can find your Senator's contact information here:
Use the easy contact form below. It only takes a minute to send your message straight to your Senator.

To learn more about the Phill Kline case and support him in his efforts to bring justice go to:

To view the Live Action undercover video investigations go to:

I want to end on an encouraging note. Our efforts have already made a difference all over the country in recent months. In Virginia, an amendment was put in place that will require abortion clinics to be held to hospital standards. This will help to ensure more accountability through regulations. In states like Indiana, improved consent laws now require that abortion providers give more extensive information to women considering abortion such as the risks of infection, hemorrhage, breast cancer, infertility, and the unborn child’s ability to feel pain. This is a great step in the right direction of educating women about what abortion really does and is. For the first time ever in our history we are the majority. 51% of Americans identify themselves as pro-life. The truth about abortion is becoming harder and harder to ignore. These are just a few of the victories we can celebrate and there are other advances for Life currently in the works that I believe will also be marked as victories in the near future.

I share this to encourage all of you that like other injustices in our history show us - change doesn't happen overnight. Progress is what is important. We are making progress in this battle for Life. We must continue to focus our efforts on protecting women and children and I believe that in time, we will see the positive change we all hope for. Thank you for standing strong and staying loud for Life! Let's stay actively involved.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Things I Love: Cupcakes

Aside from the fact that cupcakes are sweet and yummy I think the reason I love cupcakes is because they are reserved for special occasions like birthdays, holidays or other special events which makes them...well...special! :) I'm not the only one who loves these little mini cakes though. They are very popular right now. You can get so creative with designing them and people are more and more having cupcakes instead of cakes for weddings and birthdays, etc.

I made these panda cupcakes for Jared's birthday a few years ago. I thought they were adorable! :)

Here are a few cute and creative cupcakes and cupcake inspired items.

1. Martha Stewart tiffany blue wedding tier cupcakes
2. Smiley's Sweets cheeseburger look-alike cupcakes
3. hello naomi ice cream sundae look-alike cupcakes
4. Jessie Steele cupcake apron
5. Judith Leiber rhinestone purse
7. Bakerella rose bouquet cupcakes
8. Sweet&Co cupcake charm bracelet
9. Baker's Club Hello Kitty cupcakes

Hope this sweetened your day! :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New News

Jared and I have been working on our French more lately. We've been doing the beginner level of Rosetta Stone together each night, we try to practice by speaking to each other and in social situations, reading the local paper and doing small things like writing our grocery list in french to try and use the language more. It's coming along but slowly. I'm proud of our efforts though.

Jared has been having steady success at work as well. He's been working very hard and his hard work is starting to shine. His boss, Michael Grätzel, expressed his excitement towards Jared's results and talked as though he would be publishing soon. It's hard to say what "soon" is in the Chemistry world but it's still promising news. I'm a very proud wife as always.

When Jared's at work I continue to keep myself busy with volunteer work for both of the non-profit organizations I oversee. I'm excited to see how God is working and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself.

When I'm not doing that, I'm enjoying the gorgeous weather and views and several good books. I'm close to finishing one of the books I'm currently reading which is Unplanned by Abby Johnson and I am blown away by her powerful story. I can't remember the last time a book made me tearful and at the same time so hopeful and inspired. If you haven't read this book yet, I definitely recommend you do.

I also have been enjoying trying new recipes out for dinner and Jared and I have started having a lunch date once a week together. We used to have lunch together frequently when we worked across the street from each other in Illinois so I'm glad we're able to break up the week and find a way to see each other more during the week here.

I still get struck with extreme homesickness now and then. Today I really felt the distance between my family and I but am SO thankful for technology that shrinks that distance a bit. I cannot and do not want to imagine what living this far from family would be like without the ability to stay connected like we can! I look forward to the next time I can be with everyone. I love and miss you all tremendously!

Hope that you are all staying happy and healthy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: The King Of Limbs

The King Of Limbs, the latest album from Radiohead, was released last week. My initial reaction....loved it, but I think Kid A is still my favourite album they have probably always will be. This album seemed to have a balanced blend of some of their past album sounds with a newly evolved sound of their own. I thought the track, Give Up The Ghost, had a slightly more folk feel to it, something we haven't really heard from Radiohead before - it's actually one of my favourite tracks on the album.

I can't sit still when listening to Lotus Flower. I love that the music video is of Thom York doing what he does best - bouncing around with his stellar dance moves. Anyone who has been to several of their live shows knows this is classic Thom York style.  

Feral has a definite dubstep sound with bold bass lines and reverberant drum patterns. I can envision Johnny using the loop on this one. I definitely dig it.

I also enjoyed the steady bass and backward loops in Little by Little.  This track has a more vintage Radiohead sound and it's another favourite for me from the album.

Morning Mr Magpie reminds me of some of my brother's earlier solo stuff. The looping guitar specifically. Good stuff.

Codex has a piano intro that reminded me much of Pyramid Song off their Amnesiac album. Very ethereal. Thom York's voice is absolutely phenomenal in this song. So smooth.

Separator has that soothing, mellow feel that is highlighted by Thom York's amazing voice. It's one of those songs that you can just get lost in. Love it!

There is rumor of  more songs to be released later for those who ordered the newspaper album. Of course I can never get enough Radiohead so I'll be thrilled if that is true, but if not, I think this album is more than satisfying as is! I pre-ordered and am looking forward to getting the newspaper album when it is finally released in May. It is to include 2 vinyl records, a CD and over 600 pieces of artwork. I enjoy their artwork almost as much as I love their music.

Overall, I thought the album was fantastic. Radiohead has done it again. I reeealllly hope they do a European tour this year...preferably somewhere close to us! :) If you haven't given this album a listen you definitely should. If you have given it a listen....let me know what you think!

‘The King of Limbs’ track listing:
1. Bloom
2. Morning Mr Magpie
3. Little By Little
4. Feral
5. Lotus Flower
6. Codex
7. Give Up The Ghost
8. Separator

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mental Vitamins: The Life of a Witness

 All of us who have made a personal decision to follow Christ and be a witness of His love and mercy are promised to endure persecution throughout our lives. We should not be surprised when we are hated or mocked by the world. God tells us that He was hated first (John 15:18) and if the world can hate the Creator who gave us life, the One who gave His own life so that we may live forever with Him in Heaven, the One who will love us even when no one else will, then what makes us believe that we, as simple followers of Christ, would be exempt of the same hatred and persecution? God Himself tells us that persecution is inevitable.

"Everyone who chooses to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." —2 Timothy 3:12

This is not meant to discourage us, but to bring awareness so that we can be prepared. We should expect adversity because of our faith so it is beneficial to know the following things when experiencing persecution:
  • Why are we being persecuted?
  • How should we react to persecution?
  • What are the benefits of persecution?
Let's turn to the source of truth for answers to these questions.

Reasons persecutors attack Christians
(persecution may be a result of one or several of these reasons)

1. Their goal is to stop the witness
 "That the Truth spread no further...let us threaten them." —Acts 4:17

“Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord or you will die by our hands” —Jeremiah 11:21

2. Truth is a witness against evil
"The world does not hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil." —John 7:7

"There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth." —Amos 5:10

3. Ignorance of the Truth
 "They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart." —Ephesians 4:18

"Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief."  —1Timothy 1:13

4. Arrogance and pride 
"In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down those who are caught in the schemes he devises."  —Psalm 10:2

"Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your principles with all my heart." —Psalm 119:69

5. Misguided religious zeal
"I've told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he's doing God a favor. They will do these things because they never really understood the Father. I've told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you'll be well-warned and ready for them."   —John 16:1-4

Attitudes To Have Towards Persecution

1. Be fearless and unmovable:
"But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” —1 Peter 3:14

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." —Matthew 10:28

2. Have joy in persecution:
"Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—leap for joy!—because all heaven applauds your faith and your reward will be great. Know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this."  —Luke 6:22,23

"Therefore, among God’s people we praise your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring." —2 Thessalonians 1:4

3. Do not be ashamed
"If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name" —1 Peter 4:16

"Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame."  —Isaiah 50:7

4. Endure courageously with faith and love
"All Your commandments are trustworthy. Protect me from those who hunt me down without cause. They almost finished me off, but I refused to abandon Your Truth. In your unfailing love, spare my life; then I can continue to obey Your laws."  —Psalm 119:86-87

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."  —1Peter 2:21

Benefits of persecution

1. The Lord is with and helps those in persecution
"The wicked lie in wait for the righteous but the LORD will not leave them in the power of the wicked or let them be condemned when brought to trial."  —Psalm 37:32-33

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus' sake, which makes Jesus' life all the more evident in us." —2 Corinthians 4:8-10

2. Heavenly rewards for enduring persecution
"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." —Matthew 5:10

"Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us."  —Romans 8:18

3. When condemning God's messengers, enemies often broadcast God's message thus arousing interest in it
"When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive."  —Acts 25:18-19

"No one has shown up saying anything bad about you. But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this religious faith.”  —Acts 28:22

4. It sifts out those who are not whole-hearted
"The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away." —Matthew 13:20-21

5. God reveals good out of seeming bad
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" —Genesis 50:20

 I have endured my share of persecution over the years and I am not going to is difficult when you are in the midst of it. People can be vicious. "Friends" will reveal that they are only your friend as long as your ideals align or as long as you are benefiting them or their cause in some way. There are those who will write you off quickly and completely simply for standing up for what you believe in. But if we have enemies that just means that we actually stood up for something sometime in our life. We cannot please everyone and that should not be our goal anyway. We should live to bring glory to God not to ourselves and certainly not to others.

I want to encourage you that when you are out there sharing the truth in love, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Don't be intimidated by those who clearly are not showing consideration or reason. Stay strong despite opposition. Know and practice God's Word so when faced with persecution you will have the weapon of truth and love to protect and defend your convictions.

When standing up for our beliefs we should not resort to name calling or personal attacks. Yelling and name calling will only make the other person LESS likely to listen to us and/or hear and understand the truth. It's easy to let our emotions overshadow our reason. I have spoken out of anger before and it's not something I recommend. Stick to the facts because the Truth is on our side...God is Truth.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. -Proverbs 15:1

I should also note that not everyone who disagrees with your faith will persecute you. There are those who have separate beliefs than our own that are kind-hearted, respectful people. This was meant to address those instances when you are faced with adversity due to your faith.
I hope this found you encouraged. You can be assured of my prayers.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Feature: Sorted

"SORTED is for aspiring cooks with an appetite for good grub." That is a direct quote from this UK cooking crew's facebook page. I discovered Sorted a few months back on YouTube and really enjoy their videos. They make quick, healthy and easy meal options while adding a slice of British humor along with their wonderful British accents on the side. If you're a foodie and enjoy cooking like me, you should definitely check them out!

Here are a few of my favourite Sorted recipe videos....

Cheesy Stuffed Mushrooms (minus the bacon for me)

Strawberry Shortcake

Crab Cakes

Sweet Potato Curry

Special Fried Rice

They also have recipe books available if you're interested. Got to their website: for more info!

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Things I Love: Cooking

I love to cook and try new recipes. Cooking, for me, is somewhat relaxing because while I'm cooking, I have to focus all of my attention on what I'm doing so it gives my mind a brief break from anything else going on in my life. The only part about cooking I don't like is cleaning up afterward.

I have quite a collection of recipe books back home, I brought a few with me when we moved but not many. I rely a lot on the internet for new recipe ideas. If you have a favourite dish would you please leave the recipe below or email it to me I would LOVE to try it out - and maybe I'll even blog a review about it later! :)

Here are a few easy and delicious dishes I never get tired of.....

I love Latin food and I make veggie fajitas almost once a week! I like to make white rice and black beans to go with it. Sautée your favourite veggies using a little EVOO, add your favourite seasoning (I like Cholula seasoning) wrap the cooked veggies in a flour or corn tortilla (I prefer flour) and top with cheese or any other toppings you prefer like guacamole, salsa, etc. I like to keep mine simple and just add cheese.

Another simple and healthy dish I love is sautéed fresh asparagus. Add a little EVOO and your favourite all purpose seasoning with a bit of salt and you have a yummy healthy dish that is so easy!

 I love homemade soups. One of my recent favourites is Vegetable Tortellini. It's SO easy. Just add veggies (like zucchini, carrots, celery, tomatoes etc.) and a little EVOO in a pot and cook on medium heat until veggies become crisp tender then add chicken broth or bouillion cubes with equal water. Add the tortellini and some salt and pepper for flavor and you have a great recipe for homemade hearty soup.

A tasty and easy dessert/snack I enjoy making (and eating) are Rice Krispies Treats. They are super easy to make, they are one of the healthier dessert options, and the recipe makes plenty for sharing! :)

As you can probably gather I like quick and healthy meals. If you have any recipe suggestions please share them with me! They don't necessarily have to be quick and healthy but it would be a bonus if they are! :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Good News For People Who Like Bad News

Monday was Valentine's Day and although I believe you don't need a holiday to show the person you love that you care about them and appreciate them I am also an encourager of love. Stuffed pink bears or chalk-flavored hearts are not my idea of celebrating love, but I don't believe that was the original intention of the holiday anyway. It's intent was and is to celebrate love. How we choose to celebrate is left up to our own personal interpretation. The Swiss definitely embrace the holiday. Here are a few Valentine's Day sweets we found at a local chocolate shop.

Swiss chocolate hearts and a chocolate swan

Despite all the efforts of promoting love and happiness on Valentines Day, I couldn't believe the number of people who declared their hatred and disgust of the holiday. I understand their perspective to an extent but is a holiday that encourages us to love really so bad? I agree the affection and emotion showed on Valentine's Day should be shared more year round and not simply on one designated day, but if someone showed they loved their husband or wife or significant other publicly or shared photos of their happiness from the day, we shouldn't despise and chastise them - what good is that kind of negativity anyway? There are other serious atrocities in the world that warrant such animosity - I don't think Valentine's Day should be one of them. I'm speaking directly to every Valentine's Day Scrooge out there! Seriously, lighten up!

Having said that, Jared and I did celebrate our love on Valentine's Day. I met him for lunch at McDonald's - which to many of you may sound like no big deal, but here, McDonald's is a treat. It is more expensive than in the states and we don't eat out - at all - so it was nice to break up our routine and enjoy some extra time together. We actually met for lunch so that we could take care of our health care afterward - which is mandatory here in Switzerland. We finally found affordable coverage so the stress of that is off our shoulders - something else to celebrate! :)

After Jared got off work, I cooked dinner and we had come celebratory wine to go with it. Jared baked some yummy confetti cupcakes with buttercream icing for dessert. We watched a movie on the couch together and then gave each other our Valentine's Day gift which was pre-ordering the new Radiohead album that will be released this Saturday! Radiohead is our favourite band so we were both super excited!!

I was equally happy to receive a hand-picked valentine from my 5-year-old nephew, Isaac. The animated e-card was a pug barking at a fish bowl and then said "Pugs and fishes to you on Valentines Day - Love, Isaac" :) I'm still smiling from that! I had sent him an e-card Valentine earlier in the day but must admit that his Valentine in return was way cuter and cooler than the one I sent him! My Mom told me he had said to her "I wonder if Aunt Leah will send me a Valentine?" This was before he knew I had sent him one. It makes my heart smile that he was thinking of me and wanted to be my Valentine this year! :) I love that boy so much!

Here are a few photos from our Valentine's Day.....

 pork chops, sautéed mushrooms and sautéed zucchini and wine
Jared making cupcakes! :)

The very next day Jared came home with a bouquet of flowers in his hand. I looked at him confused since Valentine's Day was the day before. Apparently he got questioned by the florist as well - she asked him "Did you forget yesterday or something?" his reply was "No, I just know how much my wife will love these." When he unwrapped the protective paper around the bouquet it revealed, to my surprise, the most beautiful bouquet I had ever seen! POPPIES! Poppies are my absolute favourite flower but I have only seen them in person once many years ago growing wild in a field in Portugal - it was then that I instantly fell in love with the flower. I had seen pictures and paintings since that time but never the live flower after all those years until now. I squeeled and kept saying over and over again: "I can't believe you found poppies!" I have never been this excited about flowers before. I am so thankful for my sweet and thoughtful husband. He not only recognized these somewhat rare flowers as my favourite in passing, but took the time to bring them home to me so that I could enjoy them! So you doesn't take a holiday to show someone you care. It just takes love.

Here are a few photos I took of my beautiful bouquet! :)

I hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day with those who are special in your life!  Cheers!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I am Second

I am Second is a movement meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others. Actors. Athletes. Musicians. Business leaders. Drug addicts. Your next-door neighbor. People like you. The authentic stories on provide insight into dealing with typical struggles of everyday living. These are stories that give hope to the lonely and the hurting, help from destructive lifestyles, and inspiration to the unfulfilled.

Below are just a few of the inspiring personal stories. Some of them are from people who are well-known and that you may recognize. Some of the difficulties they faced include eating disorders, drug addictions, loss, unfaithfulness and unfulfillment. Every story is unique but they all share the same message of hope through Jesus Christ. To watch the others in this video testimony series check out the I am Second website.

Wayne Huizenga

Anne Rice

Blake Mankin

Ashley Rawls

Michelle Aguilar

The Parks

Chris Plekenpol

Tony Dungy

Brian Welch

Mike Huckabee

I hope these real life experiences from real people find you encouraged.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mental Vitamins: The True Meaning Of Love

Today is Valentine's Day and it's central theme is love. But what is the true meaning of love? Sure we love our parents, we love our family, we love our friends and we love our spouse and if we're lucky we experience that love in return. But no matter how much we love someone or how much we think someone loves us, it could never compare to the love God has for us. The fullness of His love is immeasurable. It is a love that surpasses any and all ideas of love we may have. God is love. (1 John 4:8) So in order to fully know love, we must first know God. 

Love defines His character. Because God is love, God is everything love is. For instance, love is patient and kind (I Corinthians 13:4-5). Therefore, God is patient and kind. The first three verses of I Corinthians 13 clearly demonstrate that the list of attributes in verses 4-8 applies to God, and not as a list of behaviors we must attempt to manifest in order to make ourselves like Him. These verses state that even apparent spiritual gifts and acts of great charity will gain us nothing unless we "have" love. It's not that we must "do" love, or "feel" love, or "act" lovingly, but that we must "have" love. God is love, so if we have God, we have love and actions will follow to the extent we give God freedom to act.

Jesus defined the greatest love from a human perspective, in the gospel of John: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Jesus Himself fulfilled this greatest love by dying for us so that we could be forgiven of all our sins and have fellowship with God:  But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

God's love is revealed to us and to the world by Jesus, who gave himself for us, dying for our sins so that anyone who believes in Him may be saved. (John 3:16-18; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 5:1-2; I John 4:9). God's love is also revealed to us and to the world in the way the natural world which He created provides for human needs in spite of human sins. (Matthew 5:44-48). God reveals his love to the world in our love for each other. (John 13:34-35 & 17:20-23; 1 John 4:19)

This example of the extreme love comes only from God and is free to those who choose to follow Jesus Christ. If you are not a Christian, I hope you desire to express love as defined in the Bible. However, wanting to do so and attempting to do so in the power of your own will is guaranteed to fail. This kind of love is only possible through relying on the power of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. Even if you are a Christian, you will not succeed if you do not abide in Christ. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the constancy of Christ.

I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Castle Dinner

It's extremely late here and I'm worn out from the evening but I wanted to share our night with you really quickly.

 Jared's boss won the Millenium award in Chemistry so he put together a celebration dinner for all of his employees. He is a very brilliant and yet humble man who gives so much credit back to his co-workers so this dinner was in honour of all they had accomplished together as a team.

We had a wonderful time. We had a tour of Château de la Sarraz which was very informative but FREEZING! I would have hated living in a castle when it was cold back in the days without heating. BRRR!!! The tour guide did an excellent job and shared some interesting details about the castle's history that we wouldn't have otherwise known without her expertise. After the tour we ate in the banquet room that was right across the road. So we didn't actually eat in a castle I suppose...but I have had the opportunity to do that before so I wasn't too disappointed.

The food was AWESOME! Everything from the Hors d'œuvres, to the fillet mignon dinner, to the swiss chocolate mousse dessert. Oh and the wine! The wine was fantastic.

There was also lots of singing from fellow co-workers. Beatles covers that replaced the actual lyrics with those that included Jared's boss. It was quite funny. They also did a sort of "talent segment" where various people got up and sang if they wanted to. We sat with a fun group of people and enjoyed lots of laughs throughout the night. After tonight it was evident that I was surrounded by brilliant yet down-to-earth people who truly enjoyed their jobs and their lives. I was glad I got to be a part of it.

As I said, it is late and I'm wiped from all the excitement but I wanted to share a brief summary for those who were interested and here are just a few photos from the evening.

The  hors d'œuvres were served in these spoons. Creative and yummy!

yummy dessert


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Things I Love: Castles

During my extended travels I have seen and photographed many castles. I've even had the opportunity to stay overnight in a few. I think inside every woman there is still a little girl who dreams of living in a castle. Perhaps because of all the storybooks and Disney movies. As an adult I have grown to have a great appreciation for these stone fortresses. The history of each castle owner, the rich interior design and the overall beautiful architecture. Every castle is unique but was built for the sole purpose of protection. I am always fascinated by the different castle layouts and how many of them have secret rooms or passage ways. The large rooms and endless many stories that could be told if only walls could speak and trees could talk.

Here are a few of the castles I've toured and/or slept in over the years.

This first photograph is of Dromoland Castle in Ireland. This is one of the castles that have been turned into a hotel and the first in which I have stayed. I was so giddy the whole time. The bed was enormous, the interior was just as you'd expect - rich fabrics and vintage pieces. It was like a dream.

This next photo is of Birr Castle. It is also located in Ireland and is one of my favourites. As you can see it looks like it is right out of a storybook. The castle grounds were just as spectacular.

Another castle that I had the pleasure of staying over night in was located in Scotland. I can't remember the name of it though. My mind is already beginning to slip............

Bunratty is another Irish castle and what made this one memorable was that we ate a traditional medievel dinner there that included giant turkey legs, eating without utensils and pitchers of "mead" which we later learned was sweetened honey wine. We found out because my dad got a little tipsy from it. He thought it was "kool-aid" according to him! HAHA I have video evidence somewhere of him after drinking the mead as well as my mom's experience with "snuff" (it's not chewing tobacco, but similar in color) - which to this day I don't know what it's true purpose is nor how I convinced my mom to try it. I think they may have hidden it in a secret location or possibly even destroyed it but I can assure you that the contents of that tape are PRICELESS! :)

This is the famous Château de Chillon in Switzerland. It is one of the most breathtaking castles I've seen and I think that is largely because it sits directly off of Lake Geneva and has a gorgeous view of The Alps! It's been closed both times we have tried to tour it but hopefully we'll get the chance to go inside it soon.

I'll be able to add another castle to my list of experiences after tomorrow. Jared's company dinner party will be held at another castle here in Switzerland called Château de la Sarraz, pictured below. I'm so excited! :) I'll be sure to share details and photos after the event!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Birthday Love

It's official. I'm another year older. Or as my dad likes to say every year on his birthday; "another year closer to the pine box"! I hate when he says that. I always scold him because that is a day I don't want to think about! So I won't! :) I'll just keep on enjoying life and loving every minute of it until my minutes are up!

This was my first European birthday and I must say it has been a pretty wonderful birthday so far! Not long after I started my day I received a package from my parents full of all kinds of goodies and lots of sentimental items. Needless to say I started off the day with tears of happiness and thankfulness. I have been blessed with such amazing, thoughtful and loving parents!

They called me later in the day to wish me a happy birthday and my mom started reminiscing about when I was a baby and reading the notes she had written down in my baby book. Apparently I was butterball...I weighed almost 10lbs. I was also almost 2 weeks late! I've never liked to rush into anything and have always been laid back...apparently that started from before birth! HAHA She also shared that a nurse brought in a crying baby to her room at the hospital assuming it was hers and my mom said she knew that it wasn't my cry so she questioned the nurse and sure enough....the nurse was trying to give my mom a baby that wasn't hers. Mom said from that moment on I never left her sight! So apparently I almost got switched at birth! HAHA! But that story made me think just how different my life could have been had things gone differently...had anything in my life gone differently. And while there are moments in my life that I prefer to forget I don't regret a single moment because all of those moments have brought me to this point and I am so happy with the life I've been given, I'm especially thankful for all the amazing people in it.

I have been in and out of tears all day because of all the sweet friends and family who have taken the time to leave me such kind and thoughtful messages on my birthday! Your outpouring of love did not go unnoticed nor was it wasted - in fact your love has been passed on through me to others. I have been overwhelming blessed over the past year, largely because of all of you and because of the love I've received by so many of you I decided that I didn't need anything for my birthday this year. Instead I wanted to give back. There are so many who need love, support and compassion and the organizations I was impressed upon to share my blessings with and who I knew would use those resources for good were Love146 and 40DaysForLife. Both of these groups share the same passion I love and protect the most vulnerable among us. I encourage you to check out their websites and learn more about how they live to love. I am sharing this because I wanted you all to know that your love inspired me to love more.

My birthday is almost complete, I am waiting to see and talk to my birthday buddy via skype. These virtual visits have to be planned and orchestrated due to the major time difference. It's hard to believe that 5 years ago today I received the best birthday gift nephew, Isaac! He single-handedly made me a believer in love at first sight. The moment I saw him, my heart smiled. I'd never felt that much love for another human being that instantly. Since then my love for him continues to grow. I am more and more proud of the little boy he is growing up to be. He's so smart and so sweet and so stinkin' handsome! :) I'm so thankful and feel so honoured to be his Aunt and birthday buddy!

How did I spend my birthday you ask? My amazingly sweet husband treated me to one of my favourite things....SUSHI! We ate sushi, enjoyed the sunset and we are about to cuddle up for a movie. A perfect day if you ask me! :)

Thank you again to everyone who helped make my day feel special! You all have a special place in my heart!

And now for a brief travel back in are photos of me at age 8, age 18 and today at age 28.

My smile hasn't changed! :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Get Uncomfortable

"To diminish the value of one category of human life is to diminish us all." - Ronald Reagan

We are definitely seeing the full meaning behind these words in recent weeks. Society has placed little to no value on the Life of the pre-born and now it is being revealed just how little value some have for the other most vulnerable among us. I'm speaking specifically about the complete disregard for the value and protection of  the countless young girls (and boys) who are victims of child sex trafficking in the United States. 
For Planned Parenthood human value has been replaced by dollar signs.

The footage of the most recent undercover video released today shows a clinic supervisor and medical practitioner of a New York Planned Parenthood aiding and abetting sexual exploitation of minors, even telling the undercover "pimp" he could pose as the legal guardian for his underage sex workers, some as young as 13 years old! Apparently a guardian to Planned Parenthood can be a slave owner.

This was the fourth video released this week by LiveAction all of which reveal the same shocking reality of what goes on inside Planned Parenthood's across the country. Each of these "sting" operations confirm that these are not isolated incidents. All of these clinics have one thing in common - they break the law. The overwhelming and what appears to be "trained" response from Planned Parenthood staff to those who are posing as sex workers seeking abortions, STD testing and birth control for minors as young as 13 and 14 is to ignore and completely disregard the value and safety of these young  victims. 

Watch carefully all of the undercover investigation videos taken from inside Planned Parenthood clinics across the country HERE. It is disturbing that not a single one of the employees were bothered in the slightest  to discover these individuals were involved in child prostitution. Instead of showing any concern or compassion for these young girls they ALL supplied ways to get around the law. They willingly and without question gave the sex traffickers information on how to obtain secret abortions, how to lie on the paperwork and "tweak" information and ultimately put these young girls back into the arms of their abusers. 

Planned Parenthood and other abortion supporters are trying to make this merely an abortion debate. Claiming that "anti-abortion groups are simply trying to take down the organization and take away a woman's choice." I'm here to set the record straight...this is no longer simply about abortion...this is about criminal activity, this is about breaking the law, this is about aiding and abetting in the sexual exploitation of children

300,000 children are trafficked  in our country alone each year. That is a staggering number and Planned Parenthood has made it clear that they are active participants in this crime against children.  Instead of reporting these cases of rape, abuse and violation of minors - which they are REQUIRED to by law - they are covering them up and sending these young people back into the arms of their abusers. They are actually PROFITING from the abuse because, as the videos reveal, they are willing to provide health services to the victims such as abortions, STD testing, and birth control - and they make a substantial profit from these services. It's disgusting when you think about it.

Any and all "pro-choice" advocates should be just as outraged by this. Coercion, forced abortions and child exploitation should not be tolerated or endorsed by anyone regardless on their stance on abortion. Sex slaves, like the young girls portrayed in these videos, are in no position to make their own choice on the matter - they take orders from their pimp - and therefor are being coerced and forced.  This is clearly what is going on and Planned Parenthood is very unapologetic about their involvement.

We must hold them accountable for their crimes against humanity. These are daughters, sisters, future wives and mothers that are being repeatedly victimized and Planned Parenthood, in and of themselves, are acting as a pimp to the the pimps themselves. Plain and simple, they are breaking the law and it needs to end. Any other organization involved in this kind of criminal activity would be immediately prosecuted but because the issue of abortion is a "sensitive" subject, they are trying to overshadow the illicit crimes being committed here. Abortion debate aside...what is going on at Planned Parenthood's across the nation is wrong and we must bring accountability.

We must end ALL current government funding to Planned Parenthood. They have proven time and time again that they do not deserve the support of the American people. Currently they receive over $300,000 in tax payer funds (that is money from you and I) and regardless of their claims, the evidence speaks for itself, they are not obeying the laws that were put in place to protect women, so our financial support of their organization MUST come to an end. We as Americans refuse to be enablers to this kind of criminal behaviour anymore.

Here's what YOU can do:

1. Sign this petition to defund Planned Parenthood: SIGN THE PETITION HERE
2. Call or contact your congressmen and voice your concern and outrage and tell them you don't want your tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood - this is SO important! SEND AN EMAIL RIGHT NOW!
3. Tell your friends, family co-workers, everyone you know about the truth and encourage others to follow these steps in order to EXPOSE PLANNED PARENTHOOD. Share what you know on Facebook, Twitter and other social outlets like email and personal websites or blogs.
4. Donate your time, treasure and talent to life-affirming centers and organizations whose goal is to help women and families in need. Give those in vulnerable situations a place of hope where they can go as an alternative to places like Planned Parenthood. FIND A LOCAL LIFE CENTER IN YOUR AREA AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT.

This is an uncomfortable subject but we NEED to get uncomfortable about it. Afterall, it is because of the support of you and I from our tax dollars that these kinds of crimes are able to continue. That should make us all uncomfortable enough to do something about it. I'm here to assure you that WE CAN do something about it. It requires your voice and your action. Please speak now. Act now.

To see all of the undercover video investigations follow this link: Live Action Projects

Monday, February 7, 2011

Smiling's My Favourite :)

Life can sometimes be heavy and draining so it's important to allow ourselves some time to smile, to laugh and enjoy the light-hearted side of life. Here are a few of my go-to "smile suppliers".

Monty Python has a direct line to my funny bone. This skit is one of my all-time favourites. I've seen it countless times and still belly laugh!

This older couple is clearly enjoying themselves and also providing pure entertainment for viewers like me. I just love their enthusiasm, how they are embracing the moment and seem to be oblivious to the world around them. So funny and in their own way, kinda cute! :)

Children have a special way of bringing joy into our lives. This little girl is ADORABLE and her enthusiasm for cupcakes is just too cute for words! I have watched this video repeatedly for days.

This next video is guaranteed to make you smile and go "Awwww!" :) Be sure to watch all the way to the end.

And here is a favourite quote from the hilarious movie, Elf - "I like to smile, smiling's my favourite." :) A good comedy is a great way to lighten any mood!

These are just a few things that can help bring me out of a funk if I'm having a bad day. I've also been blessed with an amazing husband who can always make me laugh no matter what. Find things that make you happy and use that as your emergency smile kit when life gets tough! I hope this made you smile! :)