Monday, January 31, 2011

Mental Vitamins: Infallible Love

“Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.”
-C.S. Lewis

I came across this quote by the wise and talented, C.S. Lewis and it went straight to my heart. We live in such a fickle world where you can be head over heels one day and loathsome or indifferent the next. We misuse and overuse the word love. We attribute love to inanimate objects or are quick to say "I love you" only to discard the relationship a few weeks, months or even years later. Often our "love" for one another changes as quickly as the seasons. But love - God's love - is constant, unchanging, everlasting. It's hard for us to fathom it because we have never seen it in other people or even in ourselves. And because we have never witnessed this one-of-a-kind love, it is difficult to wrap our heads around the concept that God is capable of this kind of love and more significantly incapable of not loving us. Truth is, God will never fail us or leave us and no matter what, he will always love us. This is exciting truth!

I'm sure we can all think of at least one person in our lifetime that we have disliked or even hated (that person can even be ourselves). But the amazing truth is that those people we can't stand, those people that make us angry or apathetic...those whom we label as "unlovable" - God LOVES them. God loves all of us, unconditionally and abundantly. We are selective about who we love - but not God. He loves everyone. Not everyone except "so-and-so"...He loves EVERYONE, no exceptions. I don't know about you, but I'm thankful for that. I will be the first to admit that I can be unlovable at times so I'm humbly grateful that Jesus loves even me, despite great faults.

One of my favourite bands, Sleeping At Last, has song lyrics that say "in this sea of change, understanding is our shore." I find it to mean that with all of the constant flux of life, knowing and understanding God and his love for us is our solid foundation. The One we can depend on to never change, never disappoint us, never let us go and always be there to love us and hold us together, is Christ. And in this world of constant waver...there is comfort and consistency, unlike no other, in the Lord. And the Bible tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:39)

It's hard for us to fathom this kind of enduring love because our eyes have never seen it in ourselves or in others, but through Christ - and only through Him - can we experience and enjoy authentic, infallible love.

 “I have loved you with an everlasting love;
   I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."
-Jeremiah 31:3

The Bible is full of love notes that God has given us. We should cherish them.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fashion: Nautical Inspired Clothing & Accessories

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for warmer weather. It's actually been pleasant here in Switzerland but it still gets pretty cold - especially when the sun starts to go down. I know for family and friends back home this winter has been pretty relentless. Spring will be here sooner than we think and then summer will follow right behind it. I know it's close because stores are already starting to put out their spring and summer clothes! It looks like the summer trend is nautical inspired. Lots of stripes, blues, golds, chain and rope textures, anchor details and of course - my favourite - bows! :) With a cruise in my future, this is very fitting and very exciting! :) Lots of cute stuff that definitely sings "summer" and/or warmer weather. Here are a few nautical items that caught my eye.
click image for larger view

1. ASOS contrast longline cardigan
2. Aeropostale nautical stripe tank
3. Forever21 gold rhinestone anchor necklace
4. Kate Spade woven handbag with blue bow
5. Accessorize red nautical stripe bikini
6. Delia's nautical stripe dress (this would look great with a simple white cardigan)
7. Colin Stuart white with gold ring sandal (love!)
8. Arden B. nautical short
9. Chanel white sunglasses
10. BayanHippo yellow sailor tote
11. Forever21 gold chunky chain 5 bracelet set
12. Lindsay Colbus sea floor cluster earings
13. Spiegel wide brim hat
14. Chanel nautical bracelet
15. Colin Stuart gold braided ankle wrap sandal

Remember to think happy/warm thoughts! :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Things I Love: CRUISES!

Jared and I met on a cruise back in 2003. It was my first cruise and I have been on two since then - all of which have been amazing! Each adventure was on a different cruise ship. The first was named the Enchantment of the Seas and I LOVE that this is the name of the cruise ship where I met my husband! :)

 Enchantment of the Seas

The second ship was named Liberty of the Seas and was even more extravagant - it had an ice skating rink, a climbing wall, multiple name it, it had it!

 Liberty of the Seas

The third ship was the Emerald Princess and what made this ship unique to the others I had been on was it had a huge outdoor movie screen where you could watch movies under the stars just like in the old days of drive-ins...only we watched them under the stars in the middle of the ocean! :)

 Emerald Princess

I have never been disappointed by any of the cruises I've been on. So needless to say I am more than excited for our upcoming 11 day Mediterranean cruise to celebrate our 11/11/11 anniversary this November. This will be the first Mediterranean cruise for both of us and I think this is the first cruise where I am more excited about the destinations than I am about the cruise itself. We will enjoy Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Israel! All of which will be firsts for us (except Italy). The cruise ship name is Costa Pacifica and according to the website has a music theme. The entire ship is decorated with music inspiration, it has a small recording studio for any aspiring musicians (I wish my brother were coming!!), there of course, will be musical/theater performance each night and if this ship is anything like the others it will be all around memorable!

 Costa Pacifica

Cruises, in my opinion, are the best way to travel! You get to see so many places and you don't have to stress or worry about carrying around your luggage from place to place or hotel to are floating hotels and transportation! You also don't have to worry about food...all meals are included and these meals are GOURMET! The food is one of the best parts! :) And you can eat 24/7 if you want...I don't advise it, but you can! ;) Cruises are like an all inclusive resort...there is endless entertainment on the ship... swimming... sunbathing... theater shows... dancing... shopping... you name it... they have it! Our particular package includes land tours as well. You just can't beat all that you get for the price and convenience!  What I'm trying to say is that if you haven't gone on a totally should! :)

I'll be anxiously counting down until our November cruise. Literally...I have a facebook countdown! ;) I'll also be sharing lots of photos and stories once our cruise finally transpires! Have I mentioned I'm excited?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Week In Review

Jared and I had our neighbor, Claudette, over for dinner on Saturday and it was so nice to get to know her and make another friend here. She is a middle aged woman who makes a living as a dog-sitter. She has a new dog she takes care of almost daily and they all are so cute and well-behaved. After meeting our two kitties it was evident that she is not just a dog-lover...she is an animal lover. She made such a fuss over Tot it was funny! She was feeding him table scraps, talking sweet talk to him in French and even suggested we enter him into a local contest because of how "cute and animated" he is. As she was leaving she shared that her own dog had passed away in recent years and how she used to feed him leftover chicken off the bone and offered to bring those scraps over for Tot now that her dog was gone. I thought that was such a sweet gesture and proof of how much she enjoyed our little boy! :) I am a proud Mama, what can I say?

Marley is not the extrovert that Tot is and typically hides when new people are around, I brought her out in my arms so that Claudette could see her and her reaction was the same as everyone else who sees Marley for the first time which is: "OH! She is gorgeous!" and then she quickly witnessed that Marley KNOWS this about herself as she "princessed" across the room with this attitude of "Yea, I know I'm gorgeous!" It's always made me laugh at just how different cats personalities are. Especially these two. Love them both to pieces!

Claudette speaks EXCELLENT English and we were able to share stories of the differences in our cultures. She has never been to the United States and asked questions like "what kind of foods are unique to America that you can't find here?" Our list was long! :) I was able to share with her a Reese Cup that my parents had brought with them during their visit, something they don't have here. She loved it! She confirmed that they don't have anything like that here. She promised to have us over in the future and she would cook authentic French food so I'm excited about that! :) I'm glad to know she is nearby. She gave us some suggestions on things to do here and is going to give us some information on affordable French lessons. I'm certain I will have more stories about our new found friend in the future because we plan to have more get togethers from now on!

- - -

Jared had another break through with his chemistry recently but as I've come to find out...chemistry is an up and down battle. You make some headway and then the next week you stall out, and then another breakthrough can happen and so on before you ever get the finished project. It takes several months and is challenging all along the way. But despite him being in a tough spot right now, he remains optimistic and so do I. I'm so proud of him! I'm anxious to see how God ultimately uses him in all this.

- - -

I caught a cold over the weekend so I have been taking it easy the last few days. I think it was the quick change in weather. One day it was snowing and literally the very next day it was warm and sunny enough that I had all the windows open in our apartment. I'm not at all complaining. This has been the most enjoyable winter of my life. I'm used to frigid cold winters in the Midwest so this is definitely a nice change! I can enjoy the snow but it doesn't stay around long enough for me to be miserable or get sick of it. I hate to be cold so this type of winter is perfect for me! :) Some of the locals claim that this is a cold winter for them and to that I say....SERIOUSLY?? It's even better than this?! (Sorry to all my family and friends back home...I'm not trying to rub it in!) I'm mostly trying to encourage more visits! ;)

Hope all of you are staying warm and healthy! Cheers!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review: Walk For Life 2011

This weekend marked the 38th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.  A record-breaking number of about 50,000 pro-life activists filled San Francisco’s downtown this weekend, as they walked 2.5 miles along the waterfront for the 7th Annual Walk for Life West Coast. With numbers like that it should have been all over the news right? But year after year, the mainstream media fails to acknowledge the pro-life movement. If this had been a pro-choice rally I can guarantee you it would have made headlines. The lack of coverage and clear bias could only mean one of two things....the opposition feels threatened and/or there is money at stake if the truth were to get out.

But the truth IS getting out despite the lack of news coverage and pro-aborts are starting to get nervous. Polls show that the majority of Americans are pro-life for the first time in decades. Young adults ages 30 and under are the next generation for Life and their numbers are growing by the day. The lies about abortion are starting to crumble. Science doesn't back up abortion. Technology has made it possible to expose the myths. People are starting to speak out louder and bolder than ever before. Victory is on the horizon for Life!

The 2011 Walk for Life West Coast was attended by a variety of pro-life groups spanning all cultures and faiths, including Silent No More, Priests for Life, Students for Life and others. The 33rd annual March For Life also took place this weekend in Washington DC., another record turnout. There were rallies in support of Life all over the country this weekend - in Colorado, Chicago, Florida and perhaps even in your own hometown. These voices are equally inspiring and encouraging as they add to the ever-growing number of pro-life advocates.

On the other side of the world in Paris, France about 40,000 people joined the Paris March for Life on Sunday afternoon. Several foreign delegations joined the Paris march, including representatives from Romania, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium. This world-wide involvement is more evidence that abortion is not merely a political or religious issue, but a global issue and it's encouraging and exciting to see that people all over the world are coming together for Life. I pray that soon abortion is not simply made illegal but that abortion becomes unthinkable.

Here are a few videos and photos that pro-life attenders captured of the events over the weekend. May you be encouraged and inspired.

Walk For Life West Coast 2011

Marche Por La Vie - Paris, France 2011

envoyé par catholiques-en-campagne. - L'info video en direct.

March For Life Washington 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Loving the Unlovable & Forgiving the Unforgivable

 Loving lovable people is easy, but it's the "unlovable" people that need love the most.

If we are all honest with ourselves we can admit that there have been people in our lives - family, friends, or other aquintances - through the years that we haven’t liked very much.  Some are self-centered, obnoxious and rude. Others can be catty, malicious, and practically unlovable. I affectionately call these hard-to-handle people, "splinters" because they have a way of getting under your skin and irritating the heck out of you.

But as followers of Christ we are called to love the unlovable.

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High." —Luke 6:27-35

"We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." —1 John 4:19-21

Loving someone doesn’t mean we have to agree with them or their choices. Loving someone means we hope our actions on their behalf work for their benefit, to build them up, maybe even change their bad attitudes or help them to become easier to love and most importantly, that they learn to love a little more like Christ themselves.

But, if we want people to listen to us and understand us, first we have to show them we care about them. Love is a verb and loving the unlovable is like the Olympics of Christian behavior. We practice. We train. Sometimes we earn the gold.  Sometimes we’re disqualified for unsportsmanlike behavior. But we love, because God first loved us–and God knows, we’re all pretty unlovable at times.

 If there is someone in our life that has hurt us or offended us in some way Christ gives us a clear solution about how to mend the wounds and heal the relationship. Matthew 18:15-17 says:

"If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell them—work it out between the two of you. If they listen, you've made a friend. If they won't listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If they still won't listen, tell the church. If they won't listen to the church, confront them again with the need for repentance, and offer again God's forgiving love."

 If someone offends us in any way we are supposed to go to that person, with a forgiving heart, and tell them how their actions and/or words were upsetting or hurtful. It is important to approach them with a forgiving heart and not with an angry heart because the true motivation should be to repair not to attack and create more damage. Often times that person has no clue that they have offended you so it's always important to approach them tenderly and with sincerity. Most of the time, once the offense has been made clear, the offender will apologize, forgiveness can be extended and the relationship can move forward. In a case where the person refuses fault or denies responsibility for their actions then a third party or mediator should be called in to help settle the dispute. If this does not help then it is wise to involve some biblical counsel from either a pastor or minister who has been trained for spiritual guidance.

If all of these efforts fail then we are to continue to pray for them and continue to hold them accountable. Holding someone accountable is not the same thing as holding a grudge. Holding someone accountable means you want to help them realize and answer to resulting consequences of their actions. Holding a grudge is resentment fueled by bitterness. Bitterness will consume you, forgiveness will free you.

Love and forgiveness come from Christ. None of us deserve it, but when we seek His forgiveness He pardons us of our past and loves us despite great faults. So I believe we should follow his lead and offer love and forgiveness to others. Even the most challenging among us.

"You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you." —Colossians 3:13


Friday, January 21, 2011

Date Night

I've said this before but it still holds true....the 8-year-old and the 80-year-old in me are in constant battle. I love the 1940's era, there is so much charm and class about that generation and I love all things vintage. I am an old soul at heart who appreciates old fashioned dates where you go to a drive in or a soda shop and sip milkshakes out of the same glass or listen to records and dance in the moonlight. I love the innocent times that once were common. When holding hands was a big deal and dancing was romantic.

I have been blessed with a husband who appreciates these things as well and together we try to keep some of that innocent charm alive in our own relationship. Whether it is catching a movie, taking salsa dancing lessons together, or just "playing DJ" by taking turns sharing songs on our iTunes...we try to have a date night each week....doesn't always have to be just has to involve fun! :)

Ever since we were married Jared and I have also made a conscious effort to have a sit down dinner together every weekday without the television or other distractions and just enjoy each others company and conversation. It's something I look forward to most during the week. Jared's previous work schedule made it much more difficult but we just started having dinner later so that we could still have that time together. It's so important to us to have that time together as a couple.

The busyness of life can sometimes distract us from what is most important - which is our relationships - but if we make the commitment and make our relationship a main priority, it can make all the difference in building and maintaining a strong, healthy, happy marriage and family. We've been married almost 4 years, have never had a fight and couldn't be happier so I guess it's working for us. :) We are by no means perfect (together or separately) nor do we claim to have mastered the art of marriage...but I think healthy communication mixed with love, respect and romance is the key to success for any couple.

Tonight is our date night and our plans are to eat junk food and play old school video games. I'm a big fan of the old Nintendo and Sega Genesis games like Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Ninja Turtles, and other "low-quality" graphic games that are definitely high in entertainment! This is where the 8-year-old in me comes out! :) I'm looking forward to it and many more date nights in our future!

Hope you all have a happy weekend!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Things I Love: Hot Cocoa

There's something about a warm cup of hot cocoa that can bring a sweet calming effect. It doesn't matter what my mood chocolate can make any day better. It's the perfect drink for these cold winter months. I also like to use hot chocolate to hide the taste of liquid cold medicine because well....Mary Poppins was right. A spoonful (or in my case, a cup full) of sugar really does help the medicine go down! That and the 8-year-old in me is fiercely stubborn about taking medicine. Oh, and in case you didn't know - Swiss hot chocolate is where it's at! :)

Here are a few others who appreciate a good cup of  hot cocoa....

1. SweetandKindOf
2. NotesandPhotos
3. Martha Stewart
4. Kraft recipes
5. CampfireChic
6. Hoosier Handmade
7. AForestFrolic
8. lefleurpixie
9. fairtradefamily

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Photo Adventure with Julia

Julia and I got together and went on a photo adventure! :) Our first stop was a photography museum that is within walking distance from her apartment. For the life of me I cannot remember the photographer's name but the images were portraits of various individuals from around the 1930's portraying their specific occupation by wearing their uniforms and/or carrying their specific work tools. All of the photos were in black and white. It was fun to see each picture and try to guess what their occupation was. The occupation and other details were labeled next to each photo so you could see if your guess was correct. The museum also had a small shop full of photo books and postcards that were also fun to look through. Julia found a book called "Switzerland vs. the World" that showed a picture of an object or thing from another country and then a picture of Switzerland's version of that same object or thing. It was fun to see the comparisons!

After the museum we decided to just walk around and explore our surroundings. Along the way we saw an outdoor ice skating rink, the beautiful grounds of the Olympic Museum, a Thai Temple that apparently was a gift to Switzerland from the Thai Government some years ago and then we just enjoyed the view of Lake Geneva and the mountains.

It was fun to get out and about and to have the company of a sweet friend! I'm sure we'll have more adventures to share in the near future! :) Here are just a few of the photos from today.....

Julia and I in front of Lake Geneva

A few of the photos from the photography museum

The "Butt Bush" HAHA! - I know, I'm mature...

fountain in front of the Olympic Museum

Thai Temple

Swiss children feeding the birds off of Lake Geneva

standing in front of Lutry (the town I live in)

These photos were taken with my iPhone...hope you enjoyed traveling around in my pocket! :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our [EXCITING] Anniversary Celebration Plans!

This year our wedding anniversary is on 11/11/11 and for those who may not know...we were married a year exactly from the day I realized he was the one. That night I was sitting across from him at dinner and I remember vividly looking up at him and he was looking at me in a way that no one had ever looked at me before. I can only describe it as "the look of love" because in that moment, I felt his love for me and it was in that moment that I felt love for the first time. The date was 11/11/06. And on 11/11/07 we were married. Even before this monumental moment, I have had a special love for the number eleven that dates back to my elementary years. It has always been my favourite number and throughout my life has had special significance.

So the fact that our anniversary this year will be on 11/11/11 we wanted to do something extra special! Jared and I both agreed we wanted to go somewhere that neither of us have been before so we could experience somewhere new together. He mentioned the idea of Greece, so that is where our searching started. Because we met in the middle of the ocean - on a cruise ship - and with me being sentimental, I started looking for cruises to Greece close to our anniversary date. I found one that I instantly obsessed over - it was a cruise to Italy, Greece, Egypt, Turkey and Israel. I couldn't believe that one cruise would take me to all of my dream destinations!

Since 6th grade I have had a huge fascination with Egyptian culture...I've seen just about every documentary there is, and traveling to Egypt has been a lifelong dream of mine. I have also had a strong interest in Greek Mythology and would love to indulge in their culture. And where do I begin on the countless photo opportunities?! But what excited me most about this cruise was the chance to visit the Holy Land! To be able to walk where my Lord and Saviour walked would be the ultimate lifetime treasure! I weep at the thought of it.

So of course, I tell Jared about the details of the cruise with excitement only to have him tell me "I'm sorry, but we just can't budget this cruise." My heart sunk. Of course I was disappointed. This was my dream trip. I had already lived it out in my head! But my disappointment was quickly replaced with respect. Respect for my husband who as difficult as it must have been to tell his eager and excited wife "no", he did it out of love because he was thinking of our best interest, not just what sounded good at the time. This cruise was financially irresponsible. Deep down I knew that, but I wanted it anyway. And hearing him say "no" re-affirmed one of the many reasons why I married him. He takes care of me...and taking care of me doesn't mean giving me everything I want. Even though "no" was NOT what I wanted to hear...I love and respect him even more for telling me "no" because it was a sign of his love and protection. This was not the first time he has responded with a "no" to my requests, but this will probably stand out as the most memorable because of what happened next....

We soon began searching for an alternative plan together and as sure as God is good, we stumbled upon another cruise line with identical destinations as the previous one except this one was literally HALF the price of the other one, including land excursions (tours) - so it was well within our budget and the port to board the cruise is only a train ride in distance so we won't have to pay extra for airfare! It was a God send! This cruise was even better than the other one and this time I got a "YES!" :) I threw my arms around my husband and just wept with joy! I am overwhelmed by God's unbelievable blessings! He coordinated every detail to perfection and I couldn't be more excited and thankful!

So we will be celebrating our 11/11/11 anniversary on an 11 day cruise to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Israel! A dream come true shared with the man of my dreams! The cruise leaves on November 6th so on our actual anniversary we will be exactly where we first the middle of the ocean. :)

God is in the details. God is good.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mental Vitamins: Love Warriors

Today commemorates the character of a man whose efforts shaped history. Martin Luther King, Jr. dedicated his life to the civil rights movement. He was considered the leader in restoring dignity to humanity and left a legacy that encourages us to love.  He was a Love Warrior. While there are still human injustices occurring in our world today, he made significant progress and shared with us so many great words of wisdom. Here are a few memorable quotes from the late Martin Luther King, Jr.

 "The time is always right to do what is right."

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." 

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."

"I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.
"Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

It's no wonder we have a day dedicated to this man. He lived an honorable life that emphasized the value of each individual. He is proof that one person can make a difference and that passion fueled by love accomplishes great things! May his legacy encourage us to be Love Warriors.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Feature: HauteLook

I recently stumbled upon a great website called HauteLook which offers 48-hour sale events with the world's top fashion, accessories, beauty, kids and home brands. Each day, HauteLook offers discounts of 50 to 75 percent off on whatever the featured items are for that day. You can see what brands are being featured about a week in advance so you can check out the "upcoming events" list and if there is a specific brand you love you can be sure to shop their sales that day. You will want to shop your favourites early though because popular items sell out quickly! Sales start from 8am pacific time to 11:00am eastern standard time.

What I love about this site is that it offers top quality brands at discount prices. And if you're like me, you like to look like a million bucks but not spend a million bucks to achieve that look! I also love the variety HauteLook, jewelry, beauty products, home decor...all at amazing prices! The products and brands offered are new daily and the sale lasts 48hours. It's like your own personal online exclusive sale that happens EVERY day!

Oh and the other cool part...if you invite friends and they purchase something you get credit toward future purchases! BONUS!!

It's definitely worth checking out! Here is my personal invite to you:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Things I Love: Handbags

I grew up as a "dainty tomboy". I loved ninja turtles, building outdoor forts, sci-fi and action movies and most of my friends were (and still are) primarily boys but I also love(d) getting dressed up for special occasions, Disney princesses and shopping. There is definitely a girly side to me. The older I get the more I embrace this girly side. :)

One thing I have always loved is purses and handbags! I remember for my 20th birthday my parents bought me my first designer handbag - light blue signature Coach purse with white leather trim. I was SO excited! The first designer bag I bought for myself was for my 21st birthday it was a small purple signature Coach purse with suede trim. I still have both of these purses and have since added quite a few new ones to my collection. I am not a purse snob though. While I LOVE designer handbags, I love purses in general and I don't care what the brand is, as long as it is cute! :)

I think my love for purses came about because it is the one fashion item that you don't have to worry about trying on and it not fitting. Jeans, shoes, swim suits...everything else has to fit just right and when clothing doesn't fit, it can be somewhat depressing (I know you ladies understand!). With purses, it doesn't have to fit your body shape, it just has to look cute with your outfit and a great purse can really make a statement. Not to mention purses are useful! I don't know how guys get by with just a wallet! ;)

Here are a few of the designer handbags I have my eye on and some I currently have in my collection. If you notice I love bows, ruffles and feminine details on purses. I also tend to gravitate towards classic styles that won't fade out with trends. The classier the better! :)

click image for larger view

I've listed below the designer and the style of each handbag for easier searching.

1. VALENTINO side bow zip top satchel in brown leather
2. PRADA with white bow detail
3. MICHAEL KORS lattington medium satchel in purple
4. EIGHT SEASONS cream handbag with flower detail (talented etsy seller)
5. ELITE berynice crossbody in taupe with zipper detail
6. KORET third avenue medium tote in black
7. MELIE BIANCO ruffled bow satchel in taupe (can now be found at
8. CHRISTIAN AUDIGIER zee zee top satchel in gunmetal
9. NZLBAGS green knit shoulder bag with brown silk bow (another talented etsy seller)
10. COACH colette leather perforated OP art tote in gold/bronze
11. TORY BURCH black patent leather satchel
12. MIU MIU side bow in taupe
13. CHANEL signature quilted white on black (currently in my collection)
14. LOUIS VUITTON white multicolor with bow (currently in my collection)
15. COACH sutton signature in purple (first handbag I ever purchased, currently in my collection)
16. DOLCE & GABBANA bronze and brown stripe bucket bag (currently in my collection)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Staying Happy & Healthy

 Random Updates:

I am one jean size away from being the size I was in high school! WHOO HOO!! All you ladies out there know how much of an accomplishment this is! I graduated from high school ten years ago (which is hard for myself to believe) and I was actually at my slimmest back then. So getting back to that size feels AMAZING! I actually enjoy trying on clothes again and wearing trendy outfits like skinny jeans and cute tops as opposed to comfy pants and t-shirts all the time. And the best part is, I now have the confidence that I didn't have at this same size ten years ago! Eating healthy and exercise really is the key. As much as I love to eat and hate to exercise - our new environment has forced me to eat healthier and exercise more. The result: I am happier, healthier and more confident. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm "all that" but I definitely have a new found love for myself.

In unrelated news....Jared and I hosted an American couple for a few days who had just moved here to Switzerland and they were in the process of securing an apartment. We hit it off instantly with Julia and Morgan! They are very sweet and we have quite a bit in common so I'm certain we will be sharing some wonderful adventures with them in the future! YAY for awesome new friends! :)

Other exciting news...Jared has had continued success at his work. He has been involved in some challenging chemistry but God has given him the wisdom to solve each problem as it arises and he seems very excited about what he is doing. I'm so proud of all his hard work and determination.

More exciting news...we have a few friends and family already planning to come visit us this year! My brother and sister-in-law are coming in the summer, one of my best friends is coming in the fall and another friend is still working out the details! :) I cannot wait to share Switzerland with them!

We have been living here for 3 months now and despite some of the initial challenges and the continued struggles with the language I can honestly say I am content here. Of course I miss all of my friends and family back home, but I feel like this experience has already taught me so much and I have developed a greater appreciation for so many things. I've been given the opportunity to slow down and really take life in and focus on what is most important. It's amazing what you can see when you look at life from a new perspective!

Hope you all are staying happy and healthy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review: Unplanned by Abby Johnson

Last night, over 20,000 people listened to the pro-life webcast that was put together by the pro-life group 40 Days For Life which featured former Planned Parenthood Director Abby Johnson who is now a passionate pro-life advocate. Since Abby's conversion in 2009 she has endured criticism and threats from abortion supporters and has overcome all of these struggles, including her victory over a lawsuit where Planned Parenthood attempted to silence her. Yesterday was the release of her new book Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line and it has already reached #11 on the best seller's list!

During the webcast Abby discusses her own personal abortion story, how she got into the abortion business,  witnessing an actual abortion and how that became the moment that changed her life completely and she also gave a message of hope to post-abortive women, pro-abortion advocates and pro-lifers alike. I definitely sensed she has a sincere compassion for every individual no matter what their stand is on abortion.

Along with the webcast, a sneak peek of the book was made available by unveiling the very first chapter for free download. You can download the first chapter of Abby's book for free HERE. If you are interested in hearing the full webcast you can listen to the replay by following this link: UNPLANNED WEBCAST

The hope is that this book will draw enough attention that the message cannot be ignored. My prayer is that the truth will be revealed about abortion and the millions of lives it has greatly effected and that this will help in making abortion unthinkable!

Please feel motivated to share this information with your friends and family or with co-workers or on various social networks such as facebook and twitter to help spread the word! We need to keep Abby and other brave individuals who are going up against these industry giants in our prayers. There is a lot at stake here and our prayers should be for the safety and protection of those taking a stand for life and continued wisdom and opportunities for the leaders in this movement.

Want to get involved in pro-life efforts and stay up-to-date on issues concerning the pro-life movement? Here are a few helpful links:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mental Vitamins: Beautiful In His Eyes

I recently began reading Beautiful In God's Eyes by Elizabeth George and so far I am really enjoying it. I plan to do a more in depth review once I finish the book but did want to share a little bit from it today with you.

The book focuses on the Proverbs 31 woman from the Bible. For those who have not read Proverbs 31, it is the story of a mother sharing with her son the qualities he should look for in a wife.

It is important to remember that the Proverbs 31 woman was spoken by a woman. These are not the words of a man expressing some personal, unrealistic fantasy. It is a woman's opinion of what a woman should be. This list of noble qualities is based on what God sees as beautiful, not what the world views as beauty.

God's idea of beauty is much different from what you and I consider beautiful and is certainly far different from the world's view of beauty. God Himself tells us "My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways...My ways [are] higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9) Just as God is in a category of His own, so is His idea of beauty!

Today's society wants us to believe that our outward appearance is what defines beauty. But God says "Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion." (Proverbs 11:22) In other words, a woman can be physically pleasing to the eye, but if she does not exhibit modesty, humility and discretion then her beauty is a shallow exterior that attempts to hide (but ultimately magnifies) her unattractive character. True beauty comes from within. It cannot be bought, it cannot be faked and cannot be seen simply with the eyes. God's beautiful woman is:
  • Pure—She is a woman of virtue (Proverbs 31:10).
  • Honest—Her husband trusts her (verses 11-12).
  • Industrious—She is busy from sunup to sundown managing her interests and expanding her enterprises (verses 13-19, 21-22, 24, 27, 31).
  • Thrifty—Her skill with finances enables her to care for her loved ones and increase her property (verses 14,16)
  • Strong in character—she faces the daily challenges of life (and death) with undaunted courage (verses 25, 29)
  • Kind—Compassion for the unfortunate governs her life and sweet speech flows from her lips (verses 20, 26).
  • Wise—Walking in wisdom is her way of life (verse 26).
  •  Holy—She wholeheartedly loves the Lord (verse 30).

These internal qualities enable God's beautiful woman to manage her life, her time, her money, her mouth, her home, her relationships and her self.

After reading this, I realized that I personally have a lot to work on. For example, I am not busy from sunup to sundown. In fact, mornings and me don't usually greet each other well. In all honesty, I can be a bit lazy. I also would not claim myself to be very wise. I am in constant pursuit of it by reading and researching but can say with certainty that there is so much more I need to learn. And there was a time in my life that I would not have viewed myself as a virtuous woman. But the beautiful part is that we are blessed with second chances and it doesn't matter what we've done or where we've been but what we do and where we go from here. Today marks a new day where we can begin living in a way that emphasizes our value and is also pleasing to God.

A rare, exceptional, extraordinary treasure—such as a woman of strong Godly character, does not happen overnight. It takes time—years of dedication, determination and discipline. The guidelines for becoming one of God's beauties are in front of us. Reading the Bible and understanding our purpose cultivates beauty. We will never have it all together. I will be the first to admit that I don't have it all together. But we don't ever need to feel overwhelmed by God's standard for beauty or that it is an unobtainable goal. The fact that we are making an honest effort to achieve these internal qualities and follow Christ makes us beautiful in His eyes.

I plan to share more on this subject in future posts. But for now, I hope this finds you encouraged and you can be assured of my prayers.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Feature: Epic Alliance International

I'm thrilled that I have been able to put much more focus on things that matter a lot to me since moving here to Switzerland. I have always had multiple jobs so this "down time" has given me the opportunity to pursue many of my life passions, one of which is reaching out to today's young people. As many of you know,  I helped start and am currently the coordinator of the international effort, Epic Alliance, sponsored by the Terre Haute Crisis Pregnancy Center with the goal, purpose and passion being to empower people with knowledge and inspire change in how we treat ourselves and each other. This past summer I developed a website for our group which you can check out at: and have had the opportunity to share my personal story and words of encouragement to young people at a few different high schools this past year. Because of the wonderful world of technology I am able to continue my passion from overseas and reach a global audience in several different ways, one of those ways is by making short videos with positive messages on various subjects that effect young people today. My goal is to produce at least one video weekly in hopes that the core message is received and that message is:
"You are EPIC and deserve EPIC love!"

If you would please support this effort  by subscribing to our YouTube channel: and/or by "liking" us on Facebook: You can also follow our Blog for updates at:

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for standing with me in this effort to share the truth in love.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Things I Love: Rainy Days

I love rainy days. It's so calming and relaxing. And it's a great excuse to stay indoors.

I found an old poem I had written about the rain several years ago and thought that it would be appropriate to share it on this rainy day. Hope you enjoy!

Beautiful Concerto
It's raining in September
It sounds like a symphony
Each drop its own instrument
Playing a sweet melody
As the rain falls on the sidewalk
Each drop, a different note
A beautiful concerto
Only the Great Composer could have wrote

As the talented rain falls

I applaud it with a smile

Have a Happy Thursday! :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We Aren't The Only Americans In Switzerland :)

Quick post today because I've been cleaning all morning and afternoon getting ready for some house guests. An American couple just moved here and the husband is going to be working with Jared. They haven't been able to secure an apartment yet because, as many of you know from our personal experience, it is an extremely difficult process. Because we sympathize with them in being far from home, with no where to stay and all of the stress and emotions that come along with that we have invited them to stay with us until they can get their living arrangements sorted out. I haven't met them yet but they are on their way over here and I'm excited about meeting new friends who speak English that will actually be living here in Switzerland!! :)

Sorry this was so short but I wanted to make sure they feel welcomed and at home here with us which meant I had to tidy up the place and when I say tidy I mean I spent the WHOLE day cleaning!

Hope all of you are enjoying the New Year so far! 


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 FAVOURITES (Part Four) - Movies

 I actually didn't see too many movies in theater during the year so my review will be limited. But of the films I did see, here are the ones that I enjoyed most. I won't go into too much detail about the movies because I don't want to spoil them for you if you haven't seen them yet.

Toy Story 3

I laughed, I cried and laughed some more. I loved the original Toy Story movie but I think this one tops it! Maybe it's because I'm older and I can relate to the whole "growing up" thing - even though I refuse to ever really grow up. I thought it was really well done and a great film for the whole family!


I absolutely LOVE this movie! Beauty and the Beast is still my all time favourite Disney movie but this one quickly moved into my top five! The storyline, the animation, the music...loved every minute of it! I watched  it twice in a row, that's how much I loved it! And I can't stop singing the song "I See The Light". Loved that scene the most!!


Quite possibly the most anticipated movie of the year and it definitely came through for me! The cast was phenomenal. The premise was complex and requires viewer concentration but it's not confusing if you give it your full attention. I'm into the kind of films that make you think and don't just hand you the plot on a silver platter. It was a brilliant film packed with action. In my opinion, one of the best movies of the year!

Alice in Wonderland

I'm starting to believe that Tim Burton is incapable of making a bad movie. This wasn't my favourite of his films nor was it my favourite Alice in Wonderland interpretation, but I still enjoyed it. The characters are visually striking, and the CG animation work is very whimsical and brilliantly twisted.


A startlingly good comeback for a franchise nearly spoiled for good with the horrendous "Alien vs. Predator" films. It doesn't top the original, but it succeeded in beating out the other sequels. It's starts off intense with Adrien Brody's character waking up in mid free-fall and this sets the tone for the entire movie. Fast-paced and packed full of action.

There were several movies I wanted to see but didn't get a chance to, like the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, How To Train Your Dragon and the Social Network to name a few. I'll have to check them out on DVD I suppose.

I can say with certainty that the worst movie of the year was the Last Airbender - I watched it on the plane to Switzerland and didn't even make it to the end. Horrible acting + mind-numbing dialogue = torture. Don't waste your time on this movie.

What were your favourite films of 2010? Please list them below!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mental Vitamins: New Year, New Day, New Life

With each New Year we make new resolutions. Vows to make this year different than the last. Plans to change how we live. Goals to accomplish. All of this is good but do we really need a whole year to pass in order to make good and necessary changes?  People all over the world make New Year’s Resolutions at the end of every December, but they sometimes don’t even last into the 2nd of January! We all have a hard time acting out our good intentions. But no matter how many times we make mistakes or mess up, God walks patiently with us to help us and to reach out to forgive us the moment we need Him. And it's not a one-time only, limited time offer coupon. His grace is available continuously each and every day. Just as every 1st of January is a New Year and every morning is a new day – in God there is a new beginning for every one of us! In fact, we don’t even have to wait for a New Year. God extends His mercy and grace to us new and fresh every day.

Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulnessLamentations 3:22-23

There are many who believe the lie that because of what they have done in their past that forgiveness is not available to them. But the beautiful truth is that God's grace is extended to ALL who love and trust in Him. We are not prisoners to the sins of our past - the curse is broken the moment we say "I do" to God. "I do repent and turn away from sin." "I do believe that Jesus died to save me." "I do believe that He conquered death and is alive today." "I do believe He is coming back for me." Through God's grace we can enjoy His promises.

Anyone who belongs to Christ gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life begins!
—2 Corinthians 5:17

 So this year make the ultimate resolution. Resolve to give your heart to the One who gives freely His grace. Then you will have a greater sense of purpose, satisfaction and insight in your life.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. —Romans 12:2

It doesn't matter what you've done or where you've been, all that matters is what you do and where you go from here. You can't go back to the beginning and make a new start, but you can start today and create a new ending. You have the freedom to change. 


Have a wonderfully blessed New Year!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 FAVOURITES (Part Three) - Books

I read some really great books this year and wanted to share some of them with you in this edition of my 2010 Favourites. I'll give each book a brief review/summary and try not to spoil any of them for you if you have not read them yet yourself. I've listed them in no particular order.

Lucky Girl
by Mei-Ling Hopgood

 Mei-Ling Hopgood's memoir Lucky Girl is about the author's complex family tree, from her biological Chinese parents who chose adoption for her to her adoptive Michigan parents who loved her unconditionally. As a reader you will follow her through her post college years as a successful journalist, join her on her wedding day bliss, really feel the love and warmth that she shared with her adoptive parents, and then join her on her journey to meet her birth parents. All this storytelling is done with humor, sincerity and self examination. It really is an epic tale that weaves together so many lives, emotions and discoveries. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ending Abortion: Not Just Fighting It
by FR. Frank A. Pavone

This is an excellent Pro-Life resource. The book is a collection of 100 short essays well-organized into eight parts: The Activists, The Arguments, The Women, The Babies, The Celebrations, The Abortionists, The Government, and The Church. They are very well written and cover pretty much all the angles on abortion. You'll not only learn a lot from Father Pavone, but learn about his experiences as well. Quite possibly the most compelling part of this book is the challenge Father Pavone makes to all of us: to not merely make abortion illegal but to "make abortion unthinkable".  I highly recommend this book to not just Pro-Life minded people but to those who are "on the fence " and those who fully support the act of abortion. We can all stand to gain something from this book.


Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped The Women of the Bible and  What He Wants To Do With You
by John MacArthur

I did an in depth review on this book through a series of weekly blog posts. You can view those HERE.

In short, The women MacArthur chose as subjects for this book are: Eve, Sarah, Rahab, Ruth, Hannah, Mary, Anna, The Samaritan Woman, Martha and Mary, Mary Magdalene and Lydia. I enjoyed the closer look into the lives of these women because it brought a greater understanding of  lives they lived and how God was the key to each of their extraordinary legacies. This book also provided much self-reflection and acted as a daily devotional where I was able to deepen my relationship with my Saviour.  MacArthur opens the book by saying: "My prayer for you is that as you read this book you will share their faith, imitate their faithfulness, and learn to love the Savior whose work in their lives made them truly extraordinary. Your life can be extraordinary, too, by His wonderful grace." This too is my prayer for anyone who reads this book.

The Case For A Creator
by Lee Strobel

Strobel actually wrote a three-part series The Case For Christ, The Case For Faith and The Case For A Creator - this was my favourite in that series. I do not have a background in science but have a strong desire to understand it. I married a Chemist who is great at breaking things down so that someone with very little scientific knowledge can understand and that is what this book does. It lays out the scientific evidence to support intelligent design in a way that the average person can understand and appreciate. While I enjoyed the book, I thoroughly enjoyed the film based on this book. I am a much more visual person so it really emphasized the facts for me and I enjoyed the interviews by respected scholars and scientist. It leaves very little room for skepticism. I recommend you read all of the books in this series by Lee Strobel.

The Missing Piece
by Lee Ezell

This is a true story written about Lee Ezell's own personal life experiences. At a very young age Lee found herself in a very bad situation. She was raped and became pregnant as a result of that rape. Ezell shares some insight into the thoughts and questions a woman in her situation faces, how amidst her struggles she turned to God and ultimately chose adoption for her baby. She talks about life before, during and after her pregnancy and adoption and how she eventually reunites with her daughter after many years. It is a story about life, choices and love. It is definitely a recommended read.

What books did you read that you would recommend? Please list them below!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 FAVORITES (Part Two) - Music

Music is my fuel. Certain songs have a way of carrying me through certain moments. I often create soundtracks in my head as I go through life. I literally pick out songs that I've heard that I think would go perfect with the moment as it is happening. Perhaps that constitutes me as a weirdo. But it is what it is.

I have a very eclectic taste when it comes to music. I'm not at all a music snob, if I like what I hear then I don't care who sings it or whether or not it is popular. I like what I like and don't have a particular genre that I gravitate towards. I just love all sorts of music.

There were a lot of great new album releases this year and I had trouble narrowing it down to just these few. This list could have gone on until 2012 I'm sure but I managed to select those that most frequented my playlist this year. I've listed them in no particular order.

The Morning Benders  -  Big Echo

Thanks to one of my friends for introducing me to this band. They remind me a bit of The Shins and Grizzly Bear but they have more of a vintage almost early Beatles sound. I dig it.

Joanna Newsom   -   Have One On Me

Her ethereal voice accompanied by the harp is so beautiful and enchanting. I was a big fan of her earlier albums so this release was definitely a treat for 2010!

The Arcade Fire  -  The Suburbs

I have been a fan of Arcade Fire since their first album release in 2004. They managed to stay true to their original sound while adding a few new twists. 'We Used To Wait' is probably my favourite on the album.

Jónsi   -  Go

Jared and I had the pleasure of seeing Jónsi live in Chicago at the Vic Theater earlier in the year and - WOW! What a performance. His sound, particularly his voice, is so wonderfully unique and amazing and the visuals at this show were outstanding. In short: 90 minutes of synaptic fireworks and endorphin butterflies! Second only to Radiohead when it comes to live performance!

The Black Keys  -  Brothers

The Black Keys brought the funk in 2010! I absolutely loved this album from start to finish. Particularly this song.

Kaskade  -  Dynasty

This album is full of stellar beats and incredible vocals. Definitely played this song on repeat in 2010!

Taylor Swift  -  Speak Now

I really enjoyed her 'Fearless' album. I thought it was very personal and heartfelt. I can't say I like this one more but it definitely has some great songs on it. 'Innocent' has such a great message and came at a time when I began putting more of my focus on reaching out to teen girls. I helped start the organization Epic Alliance and ended up adding the song to our website:

Mindy Gledhill  -  Anchor

I stumbled upon this song on YouTube and instantly fell in love with it! After listening to the entire album it quickly became one of my favourites of 2010! 'Anchor' is such a sweet song with a youthful and playful approach. There are so many great songs on this album so I definitely recommend you check it out!

Vampire Weekend - Contra

This is such a fun album! I have to thank my friends Laura and Chris for introducing me to this song. Actually, it was their 3-year-old daughter, Raina who wanted it played one day while I was in the car with them. This is one of Raina's favourite songs making her one of the coolest kids I know. So thank you Raina! :)

Corinne Bailey Rae - The Sea

So soulful. From start to finish. She has a voice you can't help but love. And I loved this album.

What were your favourite albums released in 2010? Please share them below!