Friday, April 29, 2011

CPC Banquet 2011

I just got off the phone with my Mom and she was sharing the exciting details from last night's Crisis Pregnancy Center Pro-Life Banquet in Terre Haute, Indiana. There are so many amazing things happening through their organization and I feel blessed to be involved. It's awesome to see so many people coming together to help and encourage others.

This year's speaker was Abby Johnson, who was a former Planned Parenthood Director but after witnessing an actual abortion, made a courageous choice in favor of life. She now travels across the country sharing her story and motivating others to speak out for the women and children being hurt and deceived by abortion.

I read Abby's book, Unplanned, and did a brief review in another blog post if you want to check that out. She has such an incredible story and I only wish I was able to be there to hear her speak last night. I was thrilled, however, to hear that close to 1,000 people were at the banquet to hear her amazing story. One of the things my Mom shared that Abby had said last night really stood out to me and it was this:


"I get choked up every time I say this but, think about your child, your grandchild, your niece or nephew and think about putting a price tag on that child. I can't even imagine putting a price tag on my own 4-year-old daughter. But Planned Parenthood does. It's about $450....that's the average cost of an abortion."  -Abby

Friends....human life is priceless. Yet each day abortion devalues life. Every 21 seconds an unborn child is given a price tag but never given a chance. They are denied life. That means that every ten minutes, 28 babies die from an abortion. Over 50,000,000 unborn babies have been killed since the legalization of abortion in 1973. That is 42 times the number of men and women lost in the Civil, World, Korean, Vietnam, Gulf and continuing war on terrorism combined. Gone...will never exist again. I think we fail to realize how final and absolute abortion is. It permanently removes someone from existence. Abortion is terminal.

But it isn't simply abortion that is killing generations of children and hurting countless women. It is our apathy as a society. We aren't educating ourselves or each other about what abortion actually is and what it does to not only the unborn, but to women and families. We are allowing this injustice to continue by not standing up and speaking out. Our silence, our unresponsiveness is perpetuating the injustice.

Yes, abortion isn't fun to talk about. Sure, it may be uncomfortable to address. But it NEEDS to be talked about, it NEEDS to be addressed. Otherwise we will continue to live in a society where the value of human life is subjective. That is a dangerous mindset to have because where does the giving out of price tags end? We must establish that human life is invaluable from the moment that life begins to exist and therefor should be respected and protected at all stages of life.


So when does life begin you might be asking? Science (not religion) tells us that human life begins at the moment of fertilization. That is not a matter of opinion, it is a scientific fact. It would not become human if it weren't human already. Here is an objective, fact-based report without any religious or political overtones....just the scientific facts. I encourage you read it.

Read the scientific facts HERE: http://sfuhl.org/

“He who denies that human life begins with conception does not need to contend with religion, but science. To deny this certainty of biology is not to express a lack of faith, but a lack of basic knowledge of human genetics, something that is even known by the general public.” ~ Ecuadorian Federation of Societies of Gynecology and Obstetrics, April 17, 2008

The abortion issue tends to get overshadowed by other agendas and if it appears to be prominently associated with a certain ideology then people often ignore the truth because they don't like where the message is coming from. But regardless of your beliefs the facts and logic is simple....

     The pre-born are human beings.
    Killing a human being is wrong.
Abortion kills a human being
Therefor, abortion is wrong.

I hope you will join the countless men and women who choose to stand boldly for life. To give real hope to women in need. And to share love and compassion with families all over the country and world. If you want to learn more about how you can make a lasting impact....please contact me personally or your local life-affirming center. And thank you to all who continue to fight the good fight. Bless you for your service.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Things I Love: Giving

I live to give is definitely one of my frequent phrases. I sincerely enjoy helping others and doing things for people that might improve their quality of life...even for a moment. Why? Because there is nothing in this world I treasure more than people. Now, before some begin making assumptions...I am not attempting to portray myself as some saint, (I am far from it) but I can't and won't deny something that brings me a lot of joy in life. You know that elated feeling you get when you enjoy that thing you love? That's how I feel about giving. I simply love it.

I don't have a lot to give as far as money is concerned but whenever there is a sincere need I like to meet it when I can. Sometimes that just means being there to listen or to physically help someone or volunteering my abilities in some way. Giving to me means giving of yourself not just of your goods. If I could live simply off smiles, I would. Because I believe smiles are the heart's greatest reward.

No one has ever become poor by giving.  ―Anne Frank

A giving heart gathers.  ―Luke 6:38
 
It is in giving that we receive.   ―St. Francis of Assisi 

The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.  ―Albert Einstein

*photo from google image

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mediterranean Cruise....The Remix

After our initial disappointment of our anniversary cruise being canceled a few months back, we went on the search for an alternate anniversary trip plan. We considered several options but in the end, the most affordable and overall best choice where we would be able to see and do the most was booking another cruise. So that's what we did! :)

It's very similar to the cruise we had originally booked minus the stops to Egypt and Israel because those destinations were the reason our other cruise was canceled in the first place - the unrest in these countries made it unsafe to travel there so the cruise line was forced to cancel the cruise.

This cruise is virtually the same price as the other one but this one is a 12 day Mediterranean cruise, so we get an extra day of travel which is a plus. It starts in Rome, Italy then goes to Naples, Italy - Santorini, Greece - a place I've always dreamed of photographing ;) -  as well as five other main Greek Isles. So we'll get to see lots of Greece during the cruise. We will also travel to Ephesus, Turkey - Dubrovnik, Croatia (which my parents rave about) - and then our final day is in Venice, Italy.

So as long as there isn't an uprising in any of these places then we are set to have an amazing experience! It will be our first vacation just the two of us. And it will also be our first cruise as a couple...all of our previous cruises were with family, including the cruise we met on. Which we have loved all of our family cruises(obviously, since we are booking a cruise based on our positive experiences), this will just be a unique cruising experience for us since we've never done it solo before. I've been to Rome in the past but neither Jared nor I have been to any of the other destinations on the itinerary. Needless to say, we're super excited about it!

We're not only excited about the places we get to see but we're looking forward to all the things the cruise ship has to offer as well. I've said it before, and I'll say it again...you just can't beat a cruise for vacation. The cost for all you get to do and see and all of the luxuries and conveniences that are included is virtually unmatched.  All your meals are included (and the food is AWESOME), you don't have to worry about transportation or moving your luggage from hotel to hotel...it's a floating hotel. And not only that but there is all kinds of entertainment on the ship itself such as theatrical shows each night, an outdoor movie screen, dancing, music, swimming, sunbathing and my favourite....relaxing! :) All in one place, all inclusive. That's what I call WINNING! :) Just to give you a quick comparison, we had considered a trip to Iceland but it would have cost MORE for a 5 DAY trip to Iceland than it cost for everything I just mentioned for our 12 DAY Mediterranean cruise. Yea.....I love you Iceland, but couldn't justify a trip this year after doing the math. Maybe some day? I'll just listen to your wonderful music in the meantime! :)

If anyone has visited any of these places please share what you liked or didn't like about your experience there. We plan to do lots of sightseeing at each destination and it would be great to know the "hot spots" and things we don't want to miss out on while we're there!

*all photos are from google image

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: Jardin Botanique de Lausanne

Last week, my friend Julia and I decided to check out the Botanical Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland. We walked around and admired the beautiful landscape full of countless flowers and plants. Everywhere you look is natural beauty, winding steps and lovely paths. We stopped frequently to take pictures and spent several hours enjoying the tranquility and gorgeous views. The garden is located in the heart of the city but you will definitely forget you are in a city moments after entering the garden. It's so enchanting and has lots of sitting spots and places to just relax and enjoy the views. It's a perfect place for walks, picnics and just admiring nature at its finest. Here are a few photos from the day. Hope you enjoy!












*all images are watermarked and copyright protected. contact me for purchase and licensing info.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Ultimate Cure For Homesickness

Whatever you're chasing, if it isn't Jesus, when you catch it you still won't be satisfied. (Isaiah 26:8)

How many of us have been searching for satisfaction in people and/or things only to find that once we have what we thought would complete us or make us happy we still have this emptiness inside and need for fulfillment?

I have personally been there. I tried just about every distraction I could find to fill this hollowness I felt deep within me. Relationships, alcohol, material wealth, friends...anything and everything I thought would fill the void, but all of these things simply numbed the pain temporarily. At the end of the day, I was still unsatisfied. I started to think that it was just life and there was nothing that was going to change it. I mean, I had everything I needed....or so I thought. I just couldn't seem to overcome this intense longing for something...what that something was, I couldn't quite figure out.

I had grown up in a loving, Christian home but during my teen years and through much of my adult years I had abandoned my faith and was living a very shallow life. After all of those years of persistent disappointments I literally gave up. Up to that point I had achieved nearly everything that was assumed to make a person happy...and I wasn't. I was miserable. So on that September evening in 2006 I got down on my knees in my one-bedroom apartment and said out loud "God...if you're there...I give up. Whatever I'm doing obviously isn't working...and I need your help." That was the first time I had ever admitted that I NEEDED Him.

And I'll tell you what....not only did God answer "I am here" but He answered "I love you and I will never leave you". And He has kept ALL of His written promises to this day. My life is no where near perfect. I DON'T HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. I am still that girl in desperate need of my Saviour. But since that day I accepted Christ into my life, I have never felt empty again. It was as if I was trying to fit a square inside a circle all those years. I was trying to put boyfriends, money, hobbies and everything I could think of in place of God. But none of those things were the key that could unlock the door to spiritual satisfaction, pure joy and infinite peace. Life before Him was just a series of disappointments and heartache. Choosing Christ opened the door to a life full of peace, hope and never-ending love. He was what I had been searching for all along.

It's as though my soul was homesick. The separation between myself and God caused a great sense of loneliness and longing that nothing in this world could satisfy. Since being reunited with my Maker I am no longer heartsick. I am whole.

*photo found on google images

Having a relationship with God doesn't mean life becomes perfect or that problems go away. He replaces hopelessness with hope, He turns problems into challenges we can overcome, He reveals the true meaning of love and He is the only source of peace to be found in an imperfect world full of chaos.

I get asked a lot, "Why are you so happy all the time?" and my answer is HIM! When you have found the best thing life has to offer, why on earth would you want to keep that a secret? Why wouldn't you want to share it with the world? Nothing makes me happier than God. And my sincere desire is to share my joy with others so that they might find peace, hope and love in Him also.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Follow

I tweeted about this video a few days ago but for those of you who don't follow me on Twitter and may not have seen this modern day version of the Easter story, please be sure to check it out.



Will you follow Him?

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:24)

And Jesus said to those who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

 I recently shared my favourite song by Phil Wickham in Thursday's blog post but wanted to share another song he has written entitled True Love that I think is perfect for Easter Sunday. Watch the video below:



Today we celebrate the greatest moment in history. Christ's triumph over death is our saving grace! Let's take some time today to thank our Saviour for all He has done for us! Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

Friday, April 22, 2011

It’s Friday – but Sunday’s coming!

I want to start off by sharing a special video with all of you. It is a narrative by S.M. Lockridge and is simply entitled: It's Friday....but Sunday's coming. Listen to these powerful words and prepare to be overwhelmed with hope and joy.


On that Friday when Jesus was crucified, His final words were, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). 

Although Jesus’ words were directed to His father, the public and loud nature of the communication tells us they were meant for those witnessing the event, as well as you and me. In fact, Jesus didn’t need to speak audibly in order to be heard by His father. But He is clearly sending a message to those within earshot. Here was Jesus, hanging and dying before His executioners. And in the final act of His life, He is telling the power brokers that despite their best efforts, He has won the final victory. They haven’t defeated Him. They may have killed His body, but not His soul. His relationship with His father has now been restored. May this reflection be our reminder that His sacrifice was personal and painful – and offered willingly for you and for me.

What happened on Good Friday was a tragedy, but a tragedy with a twist. It was, in fact, a joyful catastrophe. Because death did not conquer Christ - Christ conquered death! And because of this victory we have the opportunity to overcome death as well. Salvation is available to all those who believe God's Word to be true and have confidence that He will one day return.

For some of us, we are like Thomas, who when told Jesus was alive, He said, "I will not believe it until I put my fingers where the nails were" (John 20:25). Jesus' scars were proof positive that  He'd been crucified and resurrected. When Thomas saw them for himself, he responded, "My Lord and my God". It is the first time Scripture records a disciple directly addressing Jesus as God, and it came in response to seeing His scars.

We all have scars, some visible, some invisible. The Risen Christ also has scars to prove His love for us. If you don't know Him, or like Thomas, if you aren't sure you believe, He'll show you His scars "that you may believe...and...by believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31).

There is a brilliant philosopher and theologian by the name of William Lane Craig who has done extensive research into the historical accounts of Jesus Christ. He has written several books and participated in debates concerning the existence of God where he offers excellent insight about the facts surrounding the life of Christ.

I encourage you to check out some of his writings and research. Here is a video from one of his public talks where he shares the historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ along with his own conversion story.


My hope and prayer is that you take the time to know and understand the significance of you. We are all created for an individual purpose here on earth but collectively we are designed for fellowship with one another and with our Creator. You can embrace your significance today if you're ready. Have a blessed weekend!

______________________________________________________________________
some excerpts from focus on the family

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Things I Love: Finding Favourites

As many of you know...I love music. I'm always on the hunt for new songs and artists and I have an eclectic taste when it comes to the type of music I enjoy. I love everything from Jazz to Folk to Techno. As long as I can connect in some way to the song, even if it is instrumental, I don't care if it's popular or not...I will listen to it. I am definitely NOT a music snob.

I've never been able to pick a favourite song though. I've always just loved so many songs for so many different reasons and depending on my mood.. So I guess you could say I had a favourite song for every mood. But I recently discovered my all-time favourite song. It is called, You're Beautiful by Phil Wickham.



The combination of the lyrics with the images in this video just captures so much. What ultimately brought me to the realization that this is definitely my favourite song is the fact that if I could only sing one song, it would be this one. I hope you enjoy it too.

What's your favourite song? I'd love to give it a listen!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Switzerland Tulip Festival

Last weekend I stumbled upon one of Switzerland's most beautiful traditions. After reading about the Switzerland Tulip Festival online I talked Jared into making a day trip out of it with me! :) The Tulip Festival in Morges is only about a 10 minute train ride from our apartment and well worth the trip! I have never seen so many rows of tulips in all of my life! Every color and shape you could imagine and everywhere you looked were flowers. The park where the Festival is held was pristine. It had pathways that went beneath canopies of trees, you could walk right by the lake and enjoy a grand view of the Alps as well as countless flower beds all of which were made up of different combinations of tulips and other flowers. It was so colorful and enchanting. There were also lots of families and couples enjoying picnics on the grass amongst the flowers. It was like walking through a painting! A definite must-see for anyone visiting Switzerland in the spring!

Here are a few of the photos I captured from the day. Hope you enjoy! :)






 

All images are copyrighted. I take photo theft seriously which is why my images are watermarked. Please do not steal my work. Images can soon be purchased on my website at www.behindalens.com Contact me for more info. on how to purchase prints or obtain permission for commercial use.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Review: The Case For Easter

I recently read The Case For Easter by Lee Strobel and was excited about reading it because I have read his other popular books in the series, as well as watched the corresponding videos. I did a short review on those in a previous blog post if you want to check that out.

First thing you should be aware of when reading this book is that the medical description of the crucifixion is graphic and very difficult to read. But as tough as it was to think about, it was necessary for me to fully understand what actually happened to Jesus on the cross. I'm sure most of us have heard the story told "He was beaten and killed for our sins" but have we really heard the full story about what Jesus endured?

Did you know that the pain was so intense and so brutal that they had to invent a new word just to describe it. Excruciating. Excruciating literally means 'out of the cross'. Think about that: they had to create a new word because there was nothing in the language to describe the intense anguish caused during the crucifixion.

As the medical expert describes each excruciating moment that Jesus went through - reality hit me hard. I literally fell to the floor and began to sob. I did those things to Him. My sin put Him on that cross. I am responsible for His torture and death. It was me who caused such unthinkable pain. The soldiers may have physically carried out the execution that day, but I am the reason He died. It was me, my sin, that killed Him.

He loved my imperfect, sinful, wretched self so much that He went through incomparable torment and suffering and ultimately His death so that I could escape the fate of eternal suffering in Hell. That is instant humility. Knowing the true cost of my freedom is sobering. And I will spend the rest of my life in loving fellowship with the only One who despite what I have done, is not only capable of forgiving me, but wants to forgive me and to lovingly embrace me. How could I possibly reject Him after all He has done? That would be ungratefulness in its highest form. My primary goal and passion is to live my life as a reflection of my gratitude towards Him.

My responsibility for His death does not prompt a life of sorrow and guilt. I live with joy because I have been forgiven. Christ conquered death. He rescued me. And I can live with the promise of eternal life and His endless love because of His saving grace! All of us who accept His gift of salvation can experience this joy and freedom. What a reason to celebrate!

As far as my opinion about the book, I thought it was very thought provoking and insightful. It's not a long book but it hits the key points that support the historic events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Perhaps I'll do more blog posts with personal reflections about this book in the future. This really is the perfect time to read it as we approach the anniversary of His resurrection! I encourage others to read it as well.

Monday, April 18, 2011

True Love Celebration

As we enter Holy Week I start to reflect more on the significance of why we as Christians observe Easter as such an honorable day. And that is because it is the most monumental moment in all of the world's history! I grew up attending church and learning from the Bible beginning at a very young age. But it wasn't until after I abandoned my faith as an adult, then later restored my relationship with Jesus Christ and began pursuing greater knowledge about the evidence that confirms that He not only lived, but He died and then conquered death so that we too could overcome death, that I truly understood and appreciated the importance of why we celebrate.

For me, and I know many others, this is the crux of our faith. To us, it is not an elaborate story that is told once a year then put back on a shelf only to be pulled back out again next year like a child's fairytale or bedtime story. It is how we live each day. It is the crowning moment in our history. Because without Christ's death and resurrection, we are hopelessly destined for death without the promise of life. His ultimate sacrifice made it possible for us to be free. Truly free. He died in my place - in OUR place - so that we may live forever with Him one day.....and that is True Love. That is why we celebrate. Easter is the anniversary of the first day of real hope and true love defined.

HE IS RISEN! He lives. And with Him we can also live! What greater blessing is there to celebrate? We should celebrate this victory daily...not just once a year. Giving thanks to our Saviour for His love and mercy and living a life that glorifies Him everyday is the perfect way to celebrate all year round!





Friday, April 15, 2011

Optimistic

Staying optimistic is not an easy thing to do. It is a conscience decision we have to make and one that we must make almost moment to moment sometimes. Remaining hopeful requires strength and isn't always something that comes naturally. But to quote Superman.... "Once we choose hope....anything is possible." Hope is a choice and is a choice that gives us courage and strength to overcome our doubts, our fears and our weaknesses.

I hope and pray each day that we would abandon our self-entitled attitudes as a society and embrace the philosophy of our founding fathers which is that "we are all created equal." Not born equal...but created equal. So that even the pre-born would be acknowledged and extended the same respect and protection as every human being on earth. I remain optimistic that one day more and more people will realize that nothing is worth killing an innocent child. And that abortion should be unthinkable simply because we know that their life and our life are of equal value. I hope to see the day where the pre-born are priceless in the eyes of everyone and not viewed as an inconvenience, a mistake or a dollar sign.


We don't think of ourselves as an inconvenience, a mistake or something that should have a price tag so why then should others be less deserving of the same value, respect and protection that we expect of ourselves? If we do not see all humans, regardless of their circumstance or stage of development, as having equal value as ourselves and therefor deserving of the same respect and protection as us then we are declaring that we are not equal...but that we are better. And that, my friends, is called pride.


I am disheartened that we continue to fund and support any organization that promotes violence against children cloaked by words like "freedom" and "women's rights". If we drop the pride that has blindfolded our hearts we will see the true injustice of abortion and join together to make it unthinkable.

I remain hopeful that we will see this change of hearts and in turn, an end to abortion.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Things I Love: Laughter

I love to laugh. Laughter is the remedy for so many things in life. Here are few things that make me laugh.

 Jared makes me laugh daily. Multiple times a day. This is just one of the many fun memories together.

I LOVE the Trejo Family!


Meet Maru! :)


Sergio the Sexy Saxman for hire!

Hope you got a laugh or two out of these! :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How I Operate

I don't really know where to start today. There seem to be a lot of things to talk about but I'm having a hard time finding where to begin and how to write a blog and not a novel. I guess I will start with a bit of clarification. One thing I have learned in my 28 years of life is that people will always make assumptions. I guess it is just human nature for many of us. But I think that is where a lot of confusion and disappointments come from - we behave or react a certain way to certain situations so we assume others do or should as well.

Example: I am a very even-tempered, easygoing person. I don't let a lot of things get to me. I'm overall calm by nature. I have even had countless people comment on how calm and quiet my voice is. I actually had a guy tell me that I would be voted "least likely to ever yell". And that's probably true...I think I've only hollered during concerts out of excitement - I definitely don't yell out of anger...I've always felt that raising voices only makes situations get even more out of control and you end up playing this game of who can shout the loudest which really doesn't accomplish anything. But because my tone, like my personality, is also even-tempered I think people confuse that with me being naive, depressed or apathetic. When the opposite is true. I am a generally very happy, positive person. It's extremely rare that I am not in good spirits. Some may assume that I am either hiding my true feelings or perhaps in denial because "nobody can be that happy or positive all the time." But that is simply another poor assumption.

I am human, I have my bad days too but they are few and far between not because I live some sort of fantasy life but because I choose to remain optimistic in all circumstances. If something major is wrong, I am not afraid to talk about it. I'm a pretty open person (obviously, I have a blog) But I typically confide in certain people (like God, my husband and/or my parents) when I'm having a real "down day" because they are my main source of support. I'm not a sympathy seeker so I don't typically unload all my sorrows on just anyone and everyone mostly because I don't find it to be useful for me personally. If I share my problems it is because I want or need help, not because I want people to feel sorry for me. At the same time I don't avoid or ignore problems I encounter either, I just work to overcome them as effectively and efficiently as possible and try not to involve too many people in the process. That's just how I operate. I understand that not everyone operates this way but it works best for me.

Jared and I were having this discussion the other day how he can see why I may be hard to read for some people because a lot of folks go from one extreme emotion to another. They are either super excited or extremely upset and rarely just at peace so when they encounter someone with a "balanced" outlook it is hard to relate to or understand. I am not saying that my laid back nature makes me greater or anything. I'm just saying this is me. I'm neither overly excitable or easily upsettable. I'm just content. And I would hope that doesn't make me unrelatable or unapproachable. Although I am quite aware that I'm a bit of a weirdo! ;)

When people find out that Jared and I have never had a fight in our four years of marriage they can assume we have not had to face any difficulties or challenges in our relationship. Not true. We have had some serious trials we've had to face together. We have just chosen to address any challenges we encounter as a team and not as contenders. It doesn't make us a happier or more loving couple than anyone else...we have just figured out what works for us.

There may be those who assume (there's that word again) that our attitude towards life and relationships either makes us naive or perhaps condescending but the reality is this: We love life, we love each other and we love people. That's it. It's that simple. That is how we choose to live. I just hope that people take us for who we are. And if you aren't sure about something...ask! Because you know what they say about assumptions..... ;)

I've realized that putting myself out there on the internet through my blog and other social media makes me susceptible to judgment and misunderstanding but I felt as though some of those who don't see the full scope of my life may have misinterpreted me and misjudged my heart so I wanted to put this out there. I want my blog to be a happy, positive place to come to for my readers and I hope that it is.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Be Influential

What are you doing with the authority you've been given? We all have some sort of authority or influence over something in our lives whether it be authority over ourselves (our time, actions, etc.) or other people (perhaps an employee, child, etc.)

A lot of times authority has this negative attitude that goes along with it. We sometimes think "They have authority over me or I have to do what they say because they are my parent or they are my boss, etc." And we often hear about abuses of authority. But the question is what are you doing with the authority that you have been given? 

Are you ignoring your authority? Are you using your authority or influence to build people up?  There are relationships in all of our lives that we can influence, so my challenge to you today is to use your authority to build others up! Use your authority for good in all aspects of your life.

For the purpose of this post I encourage you to use your voting authority and use it to influence your Senators this week. There is a scheduled vote this Thursday where your voice will be heard to help defund Planned Parenthood. Now, before I lose some of you reading this I want you to go back to my blog post from yesterday and read it in its entirety, check the facts and allow your conscience to be stirred. Defunding of Planned Parenthood will not close their doors, it will not make abortion illegal -  it will simply relieve tax payers from having to violate their conscience by using our hard earned tax dollars to financially support this abortion giant.

Regardless of what side of the debate you are on when it comes to abortion, the majority of Americans have overwhelmingly agreed that NO ONE should be forced to pay for anyone's abortion. If we truly believe that abortion is not a political issue then we must stop using government dollars from going to Planned Parenthood and if we really want to separate church and state then we should stop using the church's money (people of all faiths) to fund an organization that goes against any moral and religious beliefs.

If Planned Parenthood supporters want to personally fund or donate to them, that is fine, but the majority of Americans who want no part of this bloody business should have a right to protect their conscience and put their money elsewhere like towards alternate organizations - some of which are not government funded but that provide essential services, REAL health care for women, children and families. We shouldn't be forced to support an organization whose primary product sold is abortion. Call your Senators now and tell them enough is enough. We're done footing the bill for Planned Parenthood. We're done perpetuating the harm against women and the murder of innocent children. We refuse to use our authority to bring people down. We want to use our influence, our votes, our money to build people up!

TAKE ACTION: Call your two state Senators and ask them to vote to defund Planned Parenthood. It takes less than 5 minutes of your time but could have a tremendous impact on the lives of so many! Follow this link to find your Senators contact info and please call today, tomorrow and until they lose funding.


Don't know what to say when you call? Keep it simple by using similar wording such as "I want it to go on record that I do not want any federal funds or tax payer dollars to go towards Planned Parenthood." You can elaborate if you wish but make sure the message is clear that you want to end funding for all abortion providers.

Thank you for valiantly standing for life-affirming principles. You will not regret your efforts.



This song should be the anthem for all who dare to stand up against the giants.


A Fine Frenzy - 'Stood Up' lyrics

We are not frightened anymore,
We stood up, we stood up

And there are two of us there will be more,

They'll show up, yeah they'll show up
They'll show up

Blame a change of mind

A seismic shift in times
They told us not to fight
But we'll fight it till we die

Cos' we are not frightened anymore,

We stood up, we stood up

And there are two of us there will be many more,

They'll show up, yeah they'll show up

And so they sunk every ship we sailed

But we stood up, we stood up

And they fought hard, but somewhere fighting failed

They're all shook up, they're all shook up
All shook up

Steel and concrete break

Beneath the steady waves
Of fearless hope and grace
In kindness there is strength.

Cos' we are not frightened anymore,

We stood up, we stood up

And there are two of us there will be many more,

They'll show up, yeah they'll show up


Monday, April 11, 2011

United We Fall

Once again money proves to be more valuable than integrity in today's society. When we are more concerned with our paychecks than protecting the most vulnerable human beings among us it isn't any wonder why abortion is still legal in our country. We would rather pay for the killing of innocent children and harm women in need with our tax money than lose a paycheck or two or have our tax dollars be used to actually help children and families facing crisis. I'm teetering between sad and angry about the recent "agreement" by congress. Sad for the powerless and angry at the powerful. I believe that the church and well-meaning people all across the country were prepared to help those in the event they lost their job due to a government shut down. We were ready to show the government that we don't rely on them, but we can depend on God and each other and won't be bullied into compromising our morals and violating our conscience. But those in power laid the fear and lies on thick...and we fell right into their hands.

Why do some Americans continue to act like or believe that Planned Parenthood is the only provider of cancer screenings, STD tests, and birth control?! There are only 800 Planned Parenthood clinics across the United States and there are 7,000 Federally Qualified Health Centers all over the U.S. that provide all of the same services as Planned Parenthood - except abortions. In fact, these QHC's provide more extensive services that Planned Parenthood does not offer - like mammograms, vaccinations, dental, prenatal care,  X-Rays and primary care to all members of the family. These QHC's also provide many of their services for FREE to low-income and under-priviledged women whereas Planned Parenthood often turns people away if they cannot pay. Many Crisis Pregnancy Centers that I have personally volunteered with often get referrals from Planned Parenthood because the client had no money and PP knows that CPC's offer all of their services for free. Sending a message that PP cares about women.....as long as they can pay for their services. Nice.

 So the question we now face is why should we be funding an organization with our tax dollars who claims non-for-profit status yet charges for its services and is independently wealthy? (According to their latest annual report, PP has nearly one billion dollars in net assets.) Why is our government willing to sell out our servicemen and threaten hundreds of thousands of families with no pay in order to keep funneling our money into the hands of the largest abortion provider in the country? When did Planned Parenthood become more important than American families? And keep in mind that the MAJORITY of Americans (both pro-life and pro-choice) want to stop funding for Planned Parenthood (more than 60%) but clearly these "leaders" in office refuse to listen to the American people and are carrying out their own agendas against our will. But why? What's in it for them? The answer is blood money. Many candidates have been bought by the abortion industry.

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s top abortion chain having performed more than 332,278 abortions in 2009.(a number equivalent to the entire population of Cincinatti)  They receive more than one third of their billion-dollar budget from taxpayer subsidies. And, despite being legally registered as a “non-profit” entity, Planned Parenthood reported $63 million in profits in their last annual report. Although they love to throw out numbers on various services they provided, what they don't mention is that these numbers are unbundled to boast in their favor - for example, if a woman comes in for a pregnancy test and birth control they count the testing as 1 service but if she gets 3 packets of pills they unbundle that number and count her visit as receiving 4 separate services. Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood Director confirms that this was in fact done at her own clinic in Texas. So the numbers are skewed in their favor. However, Planned Parenthood isn't willing to boast about ALL of their numbers - they conveniently ignore the fact that they have aborted over 5, 300,000 babies (the equivalent to the entire population of Colorado) and hurt countless women since abortion became legal in 1973.

These claims that women will lose access to health care and that women will suffer or die without Planned Parenthood is an absolute lie and is not the only way they have grossly misled the public. For years they have given women false medical information about basic human development and misinformation about abortion itself - it's risk and harm to women such as increased risk of breast cancer, infertility, post-abortion syndrome and other physical risks including complications that can lead to death.

Undercover investigations have also exposed Planned Parenthood's willingness to aid and abet in child sex trafficking, which of course they claim to be "isolated incidents" yet SEVERAL of their clinics were caught on tape violating the state mandatory reporting laws and failing to protect children. There are ongoing legal battles that confirm that these are not just unlikely scenarios but actual court cases reveal that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers did not report sexual abuse of children who came into their clinics some as young as 10 YEARS OLD! Abortion providers like Planned Parenthood have proven time and time again that they are willing to violate laws that are put in place to protect women and children.

There is overwhelming evidence against Planned Parenthood confirming that despite their claims, they are not good for women and families. The one lie that Planned Parenthood loves to repeat is this: "We want to make abortion safe, legal and rare." If this were at all true than the majority of facts I just shared with you would not exist but even if you choose not to believe these truths then look at the reality that Planned Parenthood has made a business plan or GOAL to have all of their affiliates providing abortions by the end of 2012. If they want to make it rare then why are they expanding their abortion providing clinics? Why do they perform abortions on 1 out of 4 pregnant women at their clinics? With adoption referrals being significantly lower than performed abortions (80% decrease in just two years) it seems contradictory don't you think? If they are willing to abandon their stand on making it rare, what makes us think that they are going to stand for anything? And if abortion is such a good thing, then why should it be rare? Because abortion is never safe. There are always two victims...one dies and one is left wounded. So the conclusion is that all Planned Parenthood is working towards is keeping abortion legal - not safe and rare.

Planned Parenthood supporters love to use what I call "parrot points" where they simply repeat what they are told by Planned Parenthood affiliates and use words like "extremists" "anti-choice" and "war on women's rights" when defending the un-defensible. However, I think there are well-meaning people on both sides of the argument but in the end, the truth is what needs to be acknowledged even if that truth is uncomfortable. I encourage everyone to do your own extensive research and fact checks. The truth is something we must seek out for ourselves and not simply rely on talking points or public opinions. And once we hear and understand the truth it is how we respond to that truth that will define us as individuals and state who we are as a people. The truth is before you...how will you respond?

Have you been deceived? You are not alone. Former Planned Parenthood Director Abby Johnson has shared in several interviews how she was deceived by Planned Parenthood and abortion advocates for years. She bought into the empty promises and well-concealed lies and after witnessing the truth revealed to her through an ultrasound guided abortion, she now dedicates her life to sharing the truth with others. Listen to her interview in the following video where she gives insight into the true motives of abortion providers and that "If you go to Planned Parenthood you are supporting abortion. You cannot separate the two - they are not mutually exclusive." Planned Parenthood is in the business of abortion, supporting their business is supporting abortion.....and the choice is yours.



I hope that after you do your own research on this subject that you come to the same conclusion that the majority of Americans have come to which is that every life, at every stage of development should be respected and protected. Abortion declares that some lives are more valuable than others and judging whether or not someone is fit to live is a dangerous mindset to have. History has proven this time and time again. (slavery, holocaust...) And abortion does just that...it implies that some lives are less valuable or more desirable than others. This is the very avocation of Planned Parenthood. And because of this I cannot and will not yield on this issue. And will continue to be a voice for the voiceless and advocate for the vulnerable.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The State We're In

Jared and I just returned from a housewarming party for our friends Julia and Morgan. They have officially moved in and settled into their new apartment in Lausanne and we couldn't be more thrilled for them! Swiss housing is such a daunting task and we were happy to be able to celebrate their victory in this battle! :)

Upon returning home I had hoped to read some good news about the current crisis happening back in America. It is maddening that we are at the place we are today. We have put so much support into a corrupt organization, like Planned Parenthood, that makes its living off of killing children and hurting women, that lies, breaks the law and takes our tax dollars to carry out these atrocities that we are willing to shut down the government and force thousands of families, particularly families who sacrifice SO much for our country, to worry whether or not they will be able to make ends meet. Really? Despite the fact that the MAJORITY of Americans DO NOT want our tax payer dollars funding abortion. It is clear that our current government "leaders" have stopped listening to the American people and are trying to carry out their own agendas against our will and don't care who they effect in the process.

I am equally appalled that there has not been any information given out to the public of where we can donate to these families facing furlough. The government acknowledges that a shutdown is very possible yet they have given no resources to where these families can seek aid in case of this crisis. Some of my dear friends have great support systems they can rely on in the worst case scenario but what about those families who don't have anyone or anything to fall back on? I personally would like to be able to help these families and I know many others who would too but there has been no clear answer on how to best go about doing that!

I am frustrated, at best by all of this. And I know I am not the only one. It is completely irresponsible of these government officials. But what we as Americans need to do right now is to try and step up and take care of each other. If there is someone in need....help them...they could be your friend, your neighbor or a complete stranger but do whatever it is you can to make sure they are taken care of. I am still on the search for the best way to make a generous donation for families who may potentially lose their jobs if there is a government shut down and I will be sure to update with that information as soon as I know more!

We must also never underestimate the power of prayer. Pray for these families, pray for our leaders, pray for resolve. God is bigger than any problem we face. And God Himself tells us that:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Our land desperately needs healing and God is the only healer! We must pray and we must seek Him first.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Walking On Sunshine

Jared and I had a full but fun weekend! On Saturday we invited our friends Julia and Morgan over for dinner along with a new co-worker of Jared's who just moved here from California. Tom worked in the same lab with Jared's good friend Mark so it was kinda neat to have a common friend from back home. He and his girlfriend Wiebke seem to be a lot of fun and we look forward to hanging out again in the future.

On Sunday we invited the American couple we met at the grocery store a few weeks ago over for dinner and that went really well. We have a lot in common with Leilani and Evan and we'll definitely be hanging out with them more! We're happy that our "Swiss" friends list is growing! :)

Still enjoying my volunteer "work" and I am currently in the process of updating my photography website because a lot of people have been emailing me about their interest in purchasing some of my photographs. Hopefully I can get that going soon. I felt kind of awkward about the idea at first because I just photograph what I see as a means for my own personal keepsake of moments and experiences in my everyday life so the thought of selling what I capture as "fine art" seems beyond me, ya know what I mean? I'm flattered that I've had such a positive response to my work but I honestly never dreamed I could do what I love for a living like this. I'm excited about the possibilities though. It's just going to be difficult putting a price on my photographs. Not because I think they are worth paying for but because the whole idea that someone actually wants to pay for them is WILD! Surreal for sure. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me to do so. I definitely would not have considered it without the nudge from all of you! I'll send out an update once they are made available for purchase on my website.

Jared had some exciting news from work this week! He will have two papers published very soon - one of which will contain record-breaking results in his research. He has worked so hard and God is definitely blessing him. He's only 6 months into his post-doc and is already doing some great things so we couldn't be more thrilled! It never ceases to amaze me how modest and humble he is about his accomplishments too. Typically I would have to learn from his co-workers when he had a breakthrough at work or wait until he had to go away for a conference to accept an award to find out he had even won! I had to tell him back then that from now on he would tell me when something good happens because otherwise....he doesn't make a big deal about it. Not because he isn't excited or think it is a big deal, but he doesn't like people to fuss over him. That and he knows where the real recognition should be directed. One of the many things I admire about him. But now that I've somewhat forced him to tell me any good news, I take each opportunity to give him a big "well done!" :)

We are definitely starting to feel more settled here. We're in a good routine. And we both couldn't be happier with Jared's work hours. It's hard to believe sometimes how brutal his work schedule was back in Illinois. We barely had any time together because he was working 12+ hour days / 6 days a week  Here...we get to enjoy so much more time together. He's home by 6-6:30 and never works weekends. I'm so thankful for every moment with him. This afternoon we had a lunch date and this evening we were able to enjoy dinner out on our balcony...the weather was perfect...the view was perfect...and we were together. It was...well....perfect. :) We're both pretty happy with the life God has given us. We definitely miss our family and some of the luxuries from back home. But I am definitely content here. There's just too many things to be thankful for in order for us not to be anything but happy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Review: Hooked On Houses



I love home decorating, home furnishings and pretty much all home-related things. I enjoy watching tv shows like House Hunters, Design on a Dime and other similar shows. Jared and I are both house cats - we love to travel but we definitely love the idea of having a cozy home to return to even more. We often dream about buying our own house someday. I dream about it more than him though I'm sure. If I'm not watching a show about homes then I am surfing the web for interior decorating ideas from sites like HGTV, The Nest, Robeson Design, and just googling images of home designs. I also used to enjoy getting home interior magazines and looking through them for inspiration and ideas when I lived in the U.S. Perhaps the most fun is going inside home decorating stores and looking through all the treasures! :)

Recently my friend, Lora, introduced me to a website that I'm hooked on. Ironically it is called Hooked On Houses. It's actually a blog where the writer shares about houses of all different shapes, styles and sizes. You can check out celebrity houses, before and after projects, get design ideas...basically it's a great fix for all of us house junkies! :)


I've totally started a folder with photos of design inspirations I've found during my searches. I didn't even do that when planning our wedding!! Mostly because I knew that a wedding is a one day event (marriage is a lifetime)...and a home is more of a long term investment. That's why I think I am so excited about someday owning a home and making it our own by adding our personality through style and design.

Here are a few room designs I've found that I really like. Our future home may or may not look anything like this but....a girl can dream can't she?


I'd say that my style is more modern vintage. A delicate balance of both with a definite cozy feel. I like classic pieces with a vintage appeal but I also like things to look fresh, sophisticated and up-to-date. I also tend to gravitate towards neutral and earth tones. It's unhealthy how happy these images make me!

Do you dream about your "perfect" home too? If you have a blog, website or photo ideas please share them! I'd love to dream along with you!:)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mental Vitamins: No Better Place

“We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” -C.S. Lewis

We've all been on that road - the road that leads to destruction. In fact, there are many avenues in life that lead to ruin. But the good news is, we can always get back on the right road. The path of righteousness is straight and narrow but where it leads is far more rewarding than the broad road that leads to certain demise.

Thing is, we have to make a choice between whether we want to be on Life's Road or Death Row.

I took this photo last year. It's the path that leads to Ch√Ęteau de Chillon (Chillon Castle) in Switzerland. My mom said that it made her think of the "narrow road" that leads to Heaven. It looks plain, narrow and rugged but at the end of the road is a castle. Much like the road to life...only instead of a castle at the end...our Saviour is waiting...Heaven is the destination. Sure, other roads may be fancier, easier and seem more appealing but their end is not a safe or fun place.

 click for larger view

It's easy to get off track in a world where we make the roads to destruction look like the hippest place to be. It's exciting, there is appeal around every corner but we must remember that there is only one road that leads to salvation and that is through Jesus Christ. Steven Curtis Chapman said it best: "There's no better place on earth than the road that leads to Heaven." And there's no other place I'd rather be.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sweet Spring Time

Jared and I have amazing friends. Seriously. Amazing. I received a card today from our friends John and Erin and was brought to tears by the contents of the card. They had not only taken the time to write heartfelt words of sympathy for the loss of my Grandpa but also shared that they had donated to the Alzheimer's Association in honour of him. I can't even put into words how thankful I am for their friendship. They are so thoughtful and generous! I definitely did not expect any sort of acknowledgment like this from any of our friends but it certainly was so meaningful! I will definitely try and follow their example in the future with our friends because I now know how important of an impact it can make for a person on the receiving end!

We have received lots of kind and thoughtful words from so many of our friends in the last few weeks and I was reminded again today just how lucky we are to have such amazing people in our lives. We love you all!

In completely unrelated news. Jared and I went on the hunt for some flowers to put on our balcony today. Everywhere you go and everywhere you look there are flowers here. The Swiss love to have flowers on their window sills, porches, walkways, etc. There aren't many houses here that aren't adorned with some sort of greenery or flowers. So we wanted to find something for our outdoor space too! :)

The flower shop near our apartment is very tiny so the selection was small but we ended up taking home two pots of  orange Begonias. They had several other colors but these stood out most. I think they are really pretty and they look lovely on our balcony. Hoping to add a few more flowers in the future. We have a large ledge that can fit quite a few. Maybe have one or two flower boxes someday? Who knows. For now, I am loving the new additions! :)