Sunday, November 11, 2012

5 Wonderful Years

Five years ago today, I married my best friend!

Jared and I have had so many amazing adventures since then. I'm thankful for even the difficult moments because they brought us closer together. We are learning every day to love each other greater and to honor God with that love. And we look forward to the many blessings, experiences, and years ahead of us!

As a photographer, I have made it a tradition to take our own anniversary photos each year. (Which let me just say, that it is much more challenging to take my own photos rather than someone else's...but I give it my best) So here are a few of the images I took last weekend at Stone Mountain Park here in Georgia. It was an absolutely gorgeous autumn afternoon and I got to enjoy it all with my favourite person in the whole world! :)

I still can't believe he's mine.

Just a glimpse of the beauty we saw that day...

Happy Fall Y'all! :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

See For Yourself....

If you have not heard Jon Weece, Lead Follower of Southland Christian Church bring the message then I encourage you to take a few moments to do so. You can watch and listen to past and recent series online at

Jared and I have had the opportunity to hear him speak at Southland before but because we have lived in different parts of the world throughout our marriage we have been thankful for the opportunity to continue to hear his messages online. Technology - when used right - is a powerful tool.

I always learn something from Jon's teachings. I am always inspired to improve my walk with God after hearing him speak. And I'm always left encouraged. (I also enjoy his approach and humor)His humble, proficient and practical delivery of the truth is refreshing and authentic. To reference one of his messages on spiritual gifts...he is definitely living in his "sweet spot".

We recently watched his online message series From Death To Life and I couldn't wait to share it with you. It is the best delivery of truth I've ever heard. If you are questioning who God is, if you are struggling to believe in the power of the resurrection of Jesus or even if you have already determined that there can't possibly be a God, then I urge you to watch the following video. In it, Jon asks some thought-provoking questions that perhaps you haven't thought about, but that are imperative in our search for truth. Not once will he ever tell you what to think or how to think, which is what I love about him. The best teachers tell you where to look, not what to see. So I encourage you to see for yourself....


To quote Jon himself, "There is nothing in the life of Jesus that He wants to force on you. I'm just amazed that so many people are against Him without ever studying Him. I promise you, if you read Him, you will fall in love with Him. Here is why...because He loved everybody and everyone who came in contact with Him, fell in love with Him."

I can say with sincerity that the best thing I've ever done is fall in love with Jesus.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Georgia On My Mind

Jared has been home with me in the United States for just under a month now. In just a month's time we have celebrated his return in downtown Indy, enjoyed special moments with family and friends, moved to Atlanta, Georgia and as of today, we are officially debt free! Our God is a God who provides!!!

Living in Europe...more in one of the most expensive countries in Europe, far from our loved ones and distant from our comfort zone, really stretched us in so many ways. The daily challenges we faced in the last two years were very overwhelming most days. But through it all we leaned on our faith that God will always take care of us. And He has NEVER failed us.

Sunday night we found our new church home at Passion City Church here in Atlanta and one of the worship songs that night called 'Always' by Kristian Stanfill shares these lyrics:

My help is on the way
Oh my God
He will not delay
My refuge and strength 
I will not fear
His promise is true
My God will come through 
I lift my eyes up
My help comes from the Lord

This song resonated with me because we faced some major storms and battles these last few years and I know we will face more in our future but God's promises are true ALWAYS. And the truth that "He will not delay"...even when in the midst of struggle and waiting when we are thinking "anytime now God!" ...He is not delaying His timing...He is ALWAYS right on time. Looking back I can see His perfect timing in it all. And because I have seen how He has taken care of us in every single detail up to this point, I can return to these words and trust in them when fear and trials come up again. 

We are so grateful to be where we are right now. We are loving our new city so far! We are within 5-10 minutes to all the major grocery/shopping stores, restaurants and everything we could possibly need. (no more hiking up and down mountains and catching trains to get anywhere! YAY!) We're in a quiet, safe area just outside of the city and are looking forward to doing some more exploring once we are fully settled in. 

It was like Christmas for us going through all of our things that have been in storage for over 2 years! It was heaven sleeping in our OWN bed for the first time in years! The cats seemed to feel right at home immediately too. They're already walking around like they own the place! ;)

More praise to share....Jared and I have been here in Atlanta for one week exactly. On Monday I applied at a local portrait studio, got a call back within the hour and had an interview the very next day. I had my second interview today and left feeling really good about it. I just got a call a few moments ago and was offered the job as the Senior Photographer! This is such a blessing! Moving to a new place as a photographer, it takes time to build up clients and because we will only be here for a few short months, it didn't make sense to invest what would be necessary to gain clients only to pick up and move again in a couple months and have to rebuild all over. With this job, I will still be able to do what I love and when we settle permanently in a few months from now, I will have this experience under my belt. I'm really stoked! :)

Just wanted to share a quick update for those who have been praying for us. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for every prayer! We are so incredibly blessed and want to take every opportunity to shout how great our God is! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

So Long, Switzerland!

3 months. That is how long I have been apart from my husband.

Jared had to go back to Switzerland to tie up loose ends with work and our housing situation. I was forced to stay behind. Emphasis on the word forced. Neither one of us wanted to be separated from one another. But there were many reasons why me staying behind was best. Not easiest....but best.

When we first told our family and friends that the plan was for me to stay behind....not everyone was supportive. In fact, there were a few who made me out to be a terrible wife because of our decision. It was difficult to feel their judgement even though we both knew in our hearts this is what God was asking us to do.

I knew it was going to be tough...but has been really tough! I can't stop and think too long about the day I had to drop him off at the airport and say goodbye. If I do, my chest physically begins to ache. I don't cry very often but that is by far the hardest I've ever cried in my entire life. I had to pull over for a good deal of time because I was incapable of driving back from the airport due to the constant flood of tears. It is something I never want to re-live.

Every day since has been difficult. When you get married, the Bible says you become "one flesh"...and that is how Jared and I live. He is a part of me, not just a part of my life. So it's like I've been trying to go through life as usual but now with a missing limb. It hasn't been impossible, but it has been a huge challenge. It has been frustrating, depressing and painful!

Sure, Skype has been helpful so I can see and talk to him but some days it's been almost more torturous because I want to just pull him through the computer screen and put my arms around him! And I can't. The one person on this earth that I want to be with most and I can't be with him. Talk about tough.

The time difference between us made for an extra challenge because we had a very short window of time where we could actually connect with one another. I became very protective of that time. There was once where we both had obligations that didn't allow us to see or talk to each other at all that day....and it was so incredibly heartbreaking and hard. But we would have our "skype dates" as I liked to call them every evening around the same time. We would share about our day, watch movies, eat dinner together...and my favourite was watching Southland Church sermons online together and then talk about what we learned from each of them. We would send love notes through email and snail mail. We did everything we could to keep our relationship as close as we could to what it would be if we were physically together. Seeing my husband for our "skype date" was my favourite and most anticipated time of the day!

I've definitely developed insomnia these past few months. When you're used to having someone next to you every night and then all of the sudden they aren't there - they are in a whole other country and timezone - a shift in your sleep habits is inevitable. I'm sure I'll sleep like a baby that first night he's home.

As tough as this has been, I can say this...our relationship is stronger. Despite the strains on us...we have not let it break us. In fact, we have reluctantly watched as marriages around us have crumbled under these exact same circumstances....but not ours. Ours remains intact. Why is that? Because we have never forgotten who our first love is. God.

We have both relied on His strength and grace and promises now more than ever.  When the decision was made that I would stay behind I had a very honest conversation with God about how this was not what I wanted....that I wanted to be with my husband, not apart from him. And God answered me: "Are you going to hold onto him or are you going to hold on to ME?" So I knew this was a test. And in this test....I had to let go. I had to put my full trust in God because up until that point...I was still holding some back. And He knew that.

This wasn't a "Him or me" ultimatum...rather it was God saying "If you just trust me, I want to show you my unfailing love." And that is exactly what I have experienced. On those nights when Jared couldn't be there...God was. In those quiet nights when feelings of loneliness crept in...God reassured me that He was there. When overwhelming thoughts circled my mind...He provided His peace. When I felt weak and powerless...God provided strength. God has been right there with me through it all. And I can always rest in His promises because He has already shown me that He is worthy of my trust and praise.

Tomorrow - after 3 long months - Jared will be home. My heart can hardly believe it. Second only to our wedding day...this will be the happiest day of my life! I cannot wait to wrap my arms around him and kiss his face!

In celebration of his return, I made him a Mt. Dew tower, Mt. Dew Cupcakes along with several of his other favourite American treats! I fully intend on spoiling him good when he gets back! :)
It's going to be an epic reunion! We are staying a few nights downtown at the same hotel where we spent our wedding night and we're going to make an entire weekend out of our first date night in months! CANNOT WAIT! :)

For all of you who have prayed for us and with us through this -- thank you! Your outpouring of love and support is priceless to us! Thank you for those who encouraged us along the way. We are so lucky to have such amazing people in our lives!

I'm going to attempt to get some sleep tonight...but I feel like a kid on the night before Christmas. Tomorrow is going to be SUCH a gift!!! By this time tomorrow...I will be back in my husband's arms! Right where I belong. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mental Vitamins: Faith Rises

Have you ever prayed for something and when it didn't happen according to your time schedule you began questioning God or became really anxious? If you answered yes then you are a normal human being. The rest of you are liars. ;) But in all seriousness...why do we do this? Why do we expect everything to fall together exactly how WE want instead of waiting for GOD's will? The Bible tells us that His ways are PERFECT, His thoughts are above our thoughts...why do we not believe in His promise to take care of us and trust that He will reveal His plan to us in His perfect timing?

My thoughts go to the story of Lazarus (John 11:5-6). Jesus and Lazarus are close friends, verse 5 says that Jesus LOVED Lazarus and his family. But the interesting thing is that when he heard Lazarus was deathly sick, he doesn't immediately run to his bedside and heal him. In fact, Verse 6 tells us that "Jesus stayed where He was for two more days." Seems a bit odd that Jesus, who has already performed many healing miracles, would not rush to the aid of His dying friend right away, doesn't it?

If we go on to read the rest of the story we learn that Lazarus actually dies while Jesus is away and everyone gives Him grief for not getting there sooner...for not being on their time schedule. But Jesus ends up performing one of His greatest miracles and raises Lazarus from the dead. Jesus knew what He was doing by waiting those two extra days. Jesus could have healed Lazarus when he was sick but by raising him from the dead, He provided everyone with the opportunity for a great teachable moment to RAISE our faith. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Jesus operates on HIS timeline not ours. So if we start to feel like God isn't moving as fast as we would like in answering our prayers, it's not because He doesn't love us or isn't listening to's because He already has a plan and it is more perfect than any plans we have in mind. We need to learn to trust Him in the waiting.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Bear!

Today is my husband's 30th birthday. I was reminiscing with him today about some of the wonderful memories we have shared in the time I've had the honor of knowing him. One memory that still seems so fresh in my mind happened exactly 9 years ago. I had met him for the first time on a cruise just about a week earlier. We had so much fun laughing all night, exchanged numbers and then went back to our respective states (at the time I was living in Indiana and he was living in Kentucky). But during that night of talking and getting to know one another he told me that his birthday was July 30th. So when his birthday rolled around a few days later I decided it was a perfect excuse to call him and wish him a happy birthday. It took me a total of seven tries to finally dial his full number. I would get a few numbers dialed and then hang up before I finished dialing because I had butterflies in my stomach. I remember his dad answering and then handing the phone over to him. I remember the surprise in his voice to find out it was "the girl from the cruise". ;) We ended up talking for 3 hours that night. That was really the beginning of "us". Fast forward to today....

Nine years later and here we are...married for almost five years. Five wonderful, love-filled years I might add! He still makes me laugh, I still get butterflies about him and I still can't believe I'm lucky enough to have him in my life! Each year, each day, and each moment with him is a blessing.

Happy Birthday, Bear! I love you endlessly!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Displaced Devotion

I was listening to a webcast recently from Kyle Idleman and he talked about the subject of idols. (You know, all of those things that we make equal to or place above God?) And he shared a statement that sent shock waves through me. He said that we tend to take Christ off of the throne and put him on a loveseat with our idols. Think about that picture for a minute. We're talking about the King of Kings, the Creator of the Universe, the Almighty Savior who died for you and I. We've removed Him from His rightful throne and told him to share a couch with our sin. Or for some of us, we put that something or someone else in His place on the throne and don't even give Him a seat in our hearts at all.

What is it that you treasure most? What do you get the most joy out of? What is it that you spend the majority of your time focused on?  Is it a relationship? Money? Your career? Sex? Food? A sports team? Your appearance? Success? Pleasure? Who or what are you looking towards to satisfy you? What is it in your own life that you are putting before God? What are you making more valuable than Him? We can all fill in the blank with something that we have chosen to be first in our lives instead of God. I know I can. I unfortunately have put many things above him lately. But when I take an honest look into my own life, I can clearly see where my priorities have been grievously displaced. I have been asking these other things to do for me, what only God can do for me. I gave control over to these other passions and turned my worship from God  towards these lesser substitutes expecting to be satisfied.

Truth is that none of these things we put before God can save us. None of them can truly satisfy us. And none of them even compare to His glory. There is nothing wrong with enjoying things like relationships, success, etc. but it is when we allow these things to take center stage - to be the main focus in our lives - that is when they become idols and therefor are a distraction from God. We start to worship the gift instead of the Giver. Instead of allowing these gifts to enhance a deeper devotion to the One who blessed us with them in the first place we worship the gifts instead of God who gave them to us. God also gave us free will to choose where we place our devotion. And it is a decision we all must make for ourselves.

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. -Joshua 24:15

Friday, June 22, 2012

Home Sweet Home

It has been a really long time since I've blogged. Jared and I came back to America for the first time in 2 years on May 4th and have been on-the-go ever since. I haven't had much of a chance to sit down and update my blog until now. We wanted to enjoy this time to the fullest. And I believe we have!

Jared's Dad, Step-mom and sister were waiting for us when we stepped off the plane and it was so good to see them and hug them! It was so surreal to be reunited again! The cats did so good on the trip over. We didn't even have to sedate them and we didn't have any problems getting them through customs. It was miraculous how in just a few days of being back in America we saw Tot's health improve without the need for any medicine or treatment. He has returned to full health and we are SO thankful!!! Still not certain what made him so sick in Switzerland but I think it was a number of things...lack of climate control since there wasn't any central air/heating there, or perhaps a negative reaction to the food/water there. Not sure...and I really don't care at this point...I'm just so happy he is 100% healed! He's gained all of his weight back, his fur is soft again, he's no longer lethargic and he doesn't have the nasal issues anymore. Praise the Lord!

We joke that Tot saved Jared's life but there is actually a bit of truth to that. Just days after arriving home Jared had a physical where they took his blood pressure and it was so high that he was at serious risk for health issues. All of that Swiss stress had apparently gotten to him and were it not for this emergency trip home for Tot then we may not have caught the problem. Amazing how in just a week's time of being in America his blood pressure went back down to normal. That gives you a clearer idea of just how much stress he was under over there. He almost wasn't able to return with us but God made a way showing once again how he works in mysterious ways and always takes care of us.

The first thing Jared did once we touched down in America was LITERALLY kiss the ground. Then we immediately ate at Qdoba and he had a Mt. Dew! :) We drove to my parent's house (my childhood home) and as soon as we got in the driveway I burst into tears. Two long years of trials and hardship had come to an end and I felt overwhelmed by the mere sight of what had always been a safe sanctuary for felt even more so now. My nephews had made a "Welcome Home" banner for us and my family had decorated it with American Flags and made it very patriotic with red, white and blue everywhere. I got a little taste of how military families must feel after a long deployment. Pure joy. Relief. Patriotism. Love. There really is no place like home

Upon our return we were able to spend time with so many friends and family(after 2 long years this time was PRICELESS!), we traveled to 4 different states, watched just about every movie that was in theater this month, exercised together daily, dined out at a new restaurant almost every single night, Jared drank Mt. Dew like it was water, took sunset walks around the neighborhood every evening and we got to drive our car again! We have been having a blast! :) Freedom feels SO good!!

We were also able to visit Atlanta recently and see exactly where we will be living in a few months. We are even more excited now. It's such a clean and friendly city with so much to see and do! We're definitely going to enjoy our time there.

I've been able to get back into photographing families since I've been back as well. Oh how I've missed it! I just photographed my first newborn session last week and have determined that babies are my favourite subject to shoot by far! :) I had so much fun and was really happy with how the photos turned out! You can check out My Photography Blog for a glimpse of that session and other upcoming shoots. :)

Feeling really blessed right now. The Lord has really carried us through a lot over the past few years and is continuing to guide us with His strength and love. We are so thankful for all God has done for us and for all of the wonderful people He has placed in our lives to help us along the way. Our story is continuing to unfold and we smile at our future. :)

Thank you for all of your love and prayers.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Homeward Bound

Our plans seem to change daily but I have learned a lot in the last two years...and even these last two weeks about patience, flexibility and faith.

A few days after learning most of our plans had fallen apart we got some really great news. I had shared in a previous blog that Jared would be working at Georgia Tech in Atlanta once we returned to America. The original plan was that he would stay on his current salary through his Swiss employer but would be working in a lab in Atlanta. But the Swiss backed out last minute so that plan fell through and we were left wondering: "Where do we go from here?" Jared didn't have anything else lined up because we thought everything had already been secured. So he reached out to the professor at Georgia Tech and explained to him the situation of how the Swiss side of things had fallen through and how he would still be interested in working in his lab if that was still a possibility. In the academic realm of chemistry, jobs largely depend on available funding and we had heard from a recent employee from the group that he was downsizing because of lack of funding so we feared that there wouldn't be any funding and therefor no job for Jared. But God is faithful and good because the professor got back with Jared almost immediately and not only offered him a position, but offered him a larger salary than we had expected along with a flexible start date. Such an answer to prayer!

So despite many disappointments God has once again revealed that He is in control and that He will always take care of us. Our future is secure in Him.

Our plan now is to enjoy a month at home visiting our loved ones, getting Tot healthy and savoring all the freedoms that come with being in America. We'll return to Switzerland for 3 months to finish out our apartment lease then move to Atlanta in the early fall.

My purpose of sharing these blogs is to encourage others, so I hope that if you are experiencing disappointments, challenges or uncertainties that you will trust that Jesus is for you. He is behind the scenes perfecting all the details. When you seem to be out of resources or opportunities and your situation appears to be can still have faith that God will provide. It is in those moments where all hope appears lost that God can be glorified best because where there is little hope, God's divine power and goodness is magnified.

We have so much to be thankful for. We are incredibly grateful for all of our dear friends and family who have taken the time to pray for us and let us know that they are praying. Your prayers are so valuable and appreciated! We are thrilled to be returning home and sharing lots of hugs and smiles! :)

Tomorrow we will be HOME! Home sweet home. I feel like a child on Christmas Eve...too excited to sleep! :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Plans, Purpose and Pouting

The waters are raging over here in Switzerland. I shared in my last blog post how we needed  some things to fall together before we leave next week to return home. One of which was getting an approval from our apartment leasing agency for this American couple so that we could transfer our remaining lease over to them. Well, they were denied yesterday. The absurdity is that they have literally an IDENTICAL application/history as us. Married couple, same employer as Jared, same work contract, same salary, they even have two cats...everything about us is exactly the same except our last names practically. But they were denied anyway and the Swiss aren't giving us any reason as to why. So our plan of being able to move back home permanently in May has been wrecked. On top of that, Jared has had multiple set backs at work that hinder us from returning and staying as well. As you can imagine with these unexpected blockades, along with everything that we have endured these last two years living in Switzerland...the level of frustration we are experiencing is off the charts. But we have to trust that God has a better plan than ours.

So our course has been re-charted and we still don't have a clear destination but what we do know is that we are coming back to America temporarily through the majority of May to try and get Tot healthy as well as visit with family and friends but we will ultimately have to return to Switzerland possibly through October.

When I first learned that our plans had fallen apart and we would have to come back to Switzerland for awhile I was so angry. I was like a child in the supermarket whose parent tells them they cannot have their way and they just stop in the middle of the aisle, cross their arms, plant their feet and stubbornly says "but I want it MY way". However, I quickly learned that I could either go kicking and screaming or I could let go and obey my Heavenly Father who is clearly saying "YOUR way is not MY way and my way is perfect". He has already proven that His way is always better. Even though this may not be what I a way, it still is. You see, I want what God wants and there must be a reason why He wants us to stay in Switzerland a little longer. I'm not certain yet what that reason is...but I am certain that one day I will look back and it will all make sense.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't dragging my feet a little bit though. Just as the child who has surrendered to the parent's authority in the grocery's as though I am reluctantly following instruction but with my bottom lip pouting. The thought of having to come back to Switzerland, even for a few weeks, is not a pleasant thought for either of us. But this trip to America will be like a break in the storm. It will give us a chance to renew our strength and sanity so that we can come back and finish this once and for all.  The good news is the Swiss can't keep us here forever! Before the year is over we WILL be back home in America for good.

Looking forward to seeing everyone and tasting freedom again.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Freedom In Our Future

If you have been following my blog then you know that we have been living in Switzerland for the last 2 years. Well, I am happy to announce that in just over 1 week we will FINALLY be coming HOME!!!

The original plan was to come home at the end of July, but if there is one thing I've learned in life is that things don't always go as we plan. But that's simply because God has a better plan than ours. We're currently still trying to figure out what His ultimate plan is for us but one thing is for certain...we are coming home May 3rd! Freedom is in our future!

Our cat, Tot, has been sick since December. We've taken him to the vet so many times I've lost count and our bank account has suffered right along with him. We've realized that the vets here can't do anything else for him so while he is stable enough to travel, we want to get him back to America where he can get better treatment. My parents had planned several months ago to make a trip over here in April so we coordinated our plane tickets so that we would simply return home with them. It will be a blessing to have them here to help us pack and move our belongings along with the two cats. When we moved to Switzerland, it was just Jared and I, 4 bags and two cats...flying the 8 hours then trying to navigate the Swiss train system(which broke down mid-travel also adding another 2 hours to the travel time and we almost got separated) then we lived in a hotel for a month. I'm pretty sure I blogged about that messy experience. I'm glad our return home will not be a repeat of that.

We had originally planned for me to go back with my parents and the cats so that Jared could finish up his work obligations, but the airline my parents had already booked did not allow cats in the cabin and all airlines allow one cat per passenger so Jared ended up booking a ticket with me and now we both get to come home to America...TOGETHER! I was really apprehensive about traveling without him and being apart from him for possibly months. But God takes care of the details.

One thing that needs to happen before we leave is that we can get out of our current apartment lease. Now, an apartment lease in Switzerland is not like in the U.S. You are absolutely locked in unless you can find someone to take over your lease. There is no option of breaking the lease early and paying a fee (unless you have $10,000 lying around...which we don't). Good news...we found someone who is willing to lease our apartment. It is an American couple who will actually be a post-doc at the EPFL just like Jared. But the trouble is that the Swiss system works differently than America's (go figure, right?). Here, the landlord selects the renter after reviewing their application (yep, here you apply for an apartment like you would apply for a job...and you don't always get the one you applied for and the waiting period can be forever). So there is a real possibility that this couple could be denied for any reason the landlord wants and we could be stuck in our lease until as late as October if we are unable to get someone in here before then that the landlord approves. Because this couple has an application that is practically identical to our own...we're hoping there will be no problem in transferring the lease over to them.

The real problem of it all is that we are now in a time crunch since Jared and I are both flying home in just over a weeks time. We need to get everything wrapped up before then but the Swiss are never in a hurry and there are always so many hoops to jump through before you can get anything done. So please pray that everything gets taken care of before our departure.

I'm certain most people would be in a bit of a panic right now if in the same situation, but I know that so many people are praying for us and I really feel God's peace about everything. These last two years have really helped me to grow in my faith and because I can look back and see the hand of God in so many situations, I know that He will take care of us in this current situation. He has come through each and every time and I can trust that He will again. He has never failed us and I know He never will. He will reveal His perfect plan for us in His perfect timing. While we wait on the Lord, we would appreciate your prayers! They are so valuable.

Friday, April 6, 2012

True Love

Today is Good Friday and this Sunday is Easter. But what makes these days so significant? What are we commemorating?

Come close, listen to the story....

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... (1 Peter 1:3)

True Love by Phil Wickham

Come close listen to the story
about a love more faithful than the morning
The Father gave his only Son just to save us

The earth was shaking in the dark
All creation felt the Fathers broken heart
tears were filling heaven's eyes
The day that true love died, the day that true love died
When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn’t move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that true love died, The day that true love died

Search your heart you know you can’t deny it
Come on, lose your life just so you can find it
The Father gave his only son just to save us

The earth was shaking in the dark
All creation felt the Fathers broken heart
tears were filling heaven's eyes
The day that true love died, the day that true love died
When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn’t move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that true love died, The day that true love died

Now, Jesus is alive!
Jesus is alive!
Oh, He is alive!
He rose again!

When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn’t move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that true love died, The day that true love died

Come close listen to the story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Plans, Addictions and Life

I decided to blog a little differently today. I just wanted to share a few quick updates and recent thoughts...

  • My parents are coming to visit with us in exactly one month. I cannot wait to hug them! It's going to be just the morale booster we need to finish this last stretch in Switzerland.
  • If all goes as planned, we only have 5 more months left before we can come HOME!
  • So many friends of mine are expecting or have recently had a baby. Makes me even more anxious about getting home because I want so badly to photograph these tiny blessings!
  • Speaking of my photography...I have big plans for when we return. Can't wait to share more about that in the near future! :)
  • Tot has been sick since December :( Still working to figure out what the underlying problem is. He seems to be doing better...but each time we take him off antibiotics he relapses. Hoping this time is different. If not, we'll have to do more tests. Keep praying for him please.
  • Jared is under a lot of pressure at work. Pray that God continues to reveal to him His wisdom and peace.
  • Enjoyed some Skype time with my brother and nephews over the weekend and it instantly lifted my spirits. Had to choke back a couple tears though when Isaac said "I wish I could see you in person and not over a computer." Obviously our hearts are in the same place. I wish for nothing more than that too. He might take that statement back after I hug him and don't let go once we are together again! ;)
  • I've been working on totally revamping the teen outreach website. Excited about the direction things are going. I'll be sure to share more when everything is up and running.
  • Pinterest is like an after school special. I'm totally addicted.
  • Some days, life in Switzerland feels like the movie Groundhog's Day.
  • I've never been more organized, motivated and productive as I have these last few months. I finally feel like I'm on the right track.
And that's pretty much what's going on with us lately.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Gauntlet

Living in Switzerland is a lot like running the gauntlet. Not sure what a gauntlet is? Check out this video clip from the movie First Knight where Lancelot takes on the challenge of the gauntlet.

Now that you have a better visual, here's how Switzerland is much like the gauntlet. It's as though you go through each day trying to avoid being knocked down. Each day is mentally and physically taxing because you are constantly in survival mode. Often the hits are coming fast from all sides and all at once. But the only way out is to go through it. To keep moving forward.

We're in it right now. Dodging blows. Trying to keep our heads up and taking it full on. I don't belly ache about our troubles publicly because I don't like to complain as a general rule...but I can tell you that the past 2 years have been a extreme challenge. There have been many periods during that time where surrendering to defeat sounded like a viable option. Giving up and going home sounds so good especially in moments of weakness...we've had thoughts of buying plane tickets and getting the heck out of here even as recent as this morning. But God's word resounds in my head every time I feel like I can't take one more step or endure one more day here.

I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) 

Did you know that the Bible mentions strength over 200 times in the bible? When God mentions something more than once...particularly that many times...he really wants us to get it. He is encouraging us for our moments of weakness because He knows those moments will come. We are weak, but HE IS STRONG! He wants us to draw from His strength.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

There's that word 'content' again. I wrote a blog post about contentment a few weeks back. Contentment and strength seem to go hand-in-hand. Contentment is an illusive commodity today. In fact, much of the business world works hard to breed dis-content so that we will buy their product. They tell us something is "new and improved" so we will feel that we have less than the best and are somehow "behind the times." They are deliberately trying to make us feel dis-satisfied with life by playing to our greed. They want us to believe that we are not significant if we don't have the best and the newest.  

The problem with this mentality is that you are never satisfied. And if you are never satisfied, then you are unable to enjoy life fully because you feel deprived. Let me give you a definition of what the Bible means by contentment: Contentment is a state of satisfaction that is anchored to our confidence in God that results in a joyful celebration of life. 

Contentment is not something that comes naturally. Naturally, we are prone to: compare ourselves with others, to always want more than we already have, to interpret someone else's good fortune as coming at our expense, and to complain.

You don't have to teach any of these things. They come naturally to us.  Not so with contentment. Contentment is not instinctive. It is often our weakness and it is something that we must learn over time.  It is something we learn gradually. We likely will not just wake up one day feeling content.  We need to have a new perspective, a new attitude, a deepened faith. These things must be developed...they cannot be bought.

However, it is somewhat to our advantage that contentment is a weakness because God says that His power is made perfect in weakness. If we acknowledge our weaknesses and need for God we actually open ourselves up to receive God's grace and strength. But doing that takes humility and courage. It's something I personally struggle with, along with many of you.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:10-13)

When we finally make it on the other side of the gauntlet I am not looking for the applause that Lancelot received. I'm just looking forward to being embraced by our family and friends and being able to say "With the grace of God....we did it!"

Friday, March 16, 2012

Innsbruck, Austria

This post is a little late, forgive me for that, but we've had a lot going on lately. These photos are actually from our visit with Emily in January. I shared our trip to Germany in a previous blog post and from Germany we drove to Innsbruck, Austria. It was a pretty scary drive. We were driving through heavy snowfall the entire way and later learned that while we were there, Austria had record snowfalls. We had dinner with a couple from Turkey while we were in Austria who were on their way to a ski trip with friends. Apparently the roads were so bad and there had been reported avalanches that many of the roads were closed and lots of people were stuck overnight. We were blessed because we got there before the weather got too terribly bad and by the next day the roads were all cleared for our drive back to Switzerland.

Austria was beautiful covered in snow. We happened to be there during the winter youth olympics so there were lots of people and things going on. Here's just a glimpse of our time there....

Snowy roads on our way to Innsbruck, Austria

Jared and I in front of the colorful buildings in Innsbruck, Austria

The Golden Roof in Innsbruck, Austria

Clock tower and narrow streets of Innsbruck, Austria

Jared and I in the Youth Winter Olympic bobsled

Vienna Style tenderloin and potato croquettes at a local family owned restaurant.
 It was delicious but more food than what we're used to living in Switzerland!

Fancy building in Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck Cathedral

The colorful buildings lining the waterfront in Innsbruck.

Hope you enjoyed our trip with us. :)

Monday, March 12, 2012


"During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered." (Hebrews 5:7-9)

This entire experience over the last year and a half has had its share of difficulties, frustrations and pain. Emotions come in waves and at the moment, I feel overwhelmed by the waters and I'm kicking desperately to stay afloat. In my weakness and desperation I have cried out to Jesus in prayer many, many times. Right now, this verse in Hebrews 5 brings comfort to me because just as "He was heard"...I know God also hears our prayers and our cries. We are learning obedience from our sufferings. And obedience to God leads to rewards of  peace (Isaiah 48:18), blessings (Deut. 28:1), safety (Lev. 25:18) and prosperity (I Kings 2:3). All of these things will be ours because of our obedience to Him. 

Although we may be suffering now, we can smile at our future because "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)  

This suffering WILL NOT last. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:17). Until then...we pray, remain hopeful and wait upon the Lord.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Healthy Living - My Journey

I've had a healthy lifestyle change in the past year and a half and after sharing my progress with my Mom last night, she encouraged me to share it with others here on my blog. My goal is that it encourages you.

Upon moving to Switzerland our entire way of life has changed dramatically. And while it has been very difficult to adjust and cope with it at times...there have actually been some good changes that have come from our move. I have grown in a lot of ways. My spiritual walk with the Lord has taken on new meaning since I have had more opportunities here to pause and really take Him in. I want every area in my life to reflect His goodness and to bring honor to His name. I still have A LOT to work on...but I am pleased with my progress.

One area of my life that I have always struggled with is eating healthy and exercising. I used to dread the thought of running, jogging, or doing any type of exercise that involved sweating. I also didn't want to let go of the unhealthy foods I loved to eat. Moving to Switzerland literally forced me to change my lifestyle.

Dining out is not an option here. 1.) It is SUPER expensive. (just to give you an idea...a McDonald's Cheeseburger "Value" Meal is close to $20...yes...that's per person)  and 2.) Their restaurant choices are all very bland in taste anyway. So cooking at home is virtually the only real option for us. The upside though is that we eat A LOT healthier. And honestly...I actually crave healthy foods now.

On top of our food choices changing. We also exercise much more here. We don't own a car. Again, it's an incredibly expensive privilege that we simply cannot afford over here. So we walk pretty much everywhere. On top of that, I have been intrinsically motivated to add an exercise routine to my daily life. There were several external motivators that pushed me to be more active...specifically this encouragement from the gifted speaker, Beth Moore. I encourage you to watch this two-part video and hear her personally explain how exercise can be another form of worship to God. This inspired me to not want to work out so I can be thinner, fit in the clothes I like or to look better in general but to elevate my motivation so that I'm doing this with HIM as my focus. And with that as my motivation it truly is freeing.

I'm here to tell you that if I can make this can you. I was possibly the most unlikely candidate for this...Jared can testify that I was never really receptive to his offers of working out together. I always shot down any thought of exercise. But I'm here telling you...change is possible. It takes deep motivation and determination. But once you start feeling the positive results happen in your life you will feel immense satisfaction within yourself.

My advice is to start slow. Don't overwhelm yourself with changes all at once. You will likely burn out and give up. One by one, start cutting out unhealthy foods...eating out less...and replacing junk for wholesome goodness! You don't have to deprive yourself of things you like. If you like chocolate have some chocolate...but only have ONE small piece not an entire bag. It's all about moderation.

When it comes to exercising, again...take it slow. Start with something minimal that you can do and build up your endurance from there. Marathon runners don't get up the morning of the race and run 10k without first building endurance and training their body. Do enough exercise that challenges your strength but don't set yourself up for failure by doing too much too soon. For example, if you can easily do 30 sit ups...try for 50. If you can only do 10...then do 10. Gradually increase your numbers daily or weekly. You'll have much more success if you set reasonable goals for yourself. I recommend doing your work out first thing in the morning because 1.) You can get it done so you won't have to think about it for the rest of the day. 2.) It jump starts your day so that you're energized and ready to go and 3.) Exercise in the morning before your brain has time to figure out what you're doing! ;)

 Please keep in mind that I am not a nutritionist, or a fitness professional...I'm simply sharing what has worked for me. I hope this inspired many of you. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

God Doesn't Make Junk

Great video from the Skit Guys....

God doesn't make junk. You are His masterpiece. You were created for good.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bavaria, Germany

While my friend Emily was visiting we made a trip to Bavaria, Germany. Ever since I saw a photo of the Neuschwanstein Castle (aka: the "Fairy Tale Castle") which is what the Disney Castle is modeled after, I dreamed about seeing it in person. Well I can now check it off my "bucket list".

We had a beautifully snowy day that made for the perfect setting to see the castle. We also got to see the second castle, Hohenschwangau Castle which was where the parents of Ludwig II lived. We weren't allowed to take photos inside the castles but they are definitely worth seeing both inside and out! The surrounding area was very charming as well. The hotel where we stayed was family owned and we were the only ones there for the night so we had the entire place to ourselves. It felt more like a bed and breakfast because of that or even more like we were in town visiting family because they were so accommodating and friendly to us. If you wish to visit Bavaria I definitely recommend going in the winter truly felt like a winter wonderland.

Standing in front of the "Fairy Tale Castle" with my prince! :)

Neuschwanstein Castle surrounded by snow covered trees

Horse drawn carriage near the castle

Jared and I in front of Hohenschwangau Castle.

View from the castle

Emily spinning for joy in the Bavarian winter wonderland

The partially frozen Alpsee Lake in Bavaria

Restaurant where we had lunch. Loved the German mural.

Jared very excited about his authentic German sausage, potatoes and sauerkraut 

Charming hotel that we had all to ourselves

The hotel restaurant had AMAZING apple strudel! 

Em and I enjoying a German pint back at the hotel

Shopping streets in Bavaria, Germany

Window shopping in Bavaria, Germany

Hohenschwangau Castle all lit up at night

Hope you enjoyed our little mini vacation with us! And I hope you all get a chance to see it for yourselves in person someday! :)

Monday, February 20, 2012


"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, [child] of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness." (1 Timothy 6:6)

The very first line of this verse leaped out at me. "...godliness with contentment is great gain." Being content does not come naturally to us. It seems to be our human nature to always want more. To never be satisfied with what we have. I could rattle off a list of things I want right now...I want to be home closer to my family, I want to have a car, I want to lose weight, I want a bigger bank account, I want to go shopping...but all I really NEED is my Saviour. And when I quiet my mind and stop allowing myself to get caught up in everyday distractions, I realize He's all I really WANT too.

All of these things we want can never satisfy and bring true contentment like Jesus can. There is a gap in our hearts that can only be filled with His love and grace and when we try to fill that void with other things, like relationships, money, sex, drugs and/or entertainment, we'll never feel fulfilled or whole. That's the beauty of Jesus...He brings fullness...He delivers peace...He supplies everything we want and need. Contentment is found through Him alone.

 We have everything we'll ever need so long as we have Jesus. If we stop trying to replace Him with things then we will find the peace we are ultimately searching for. As my Dad says... "The most important things in life aren't never see a U-Haul follwing a hearse." Which is exactly what this verse is saying:"For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it." The most valuable thing we can ever have is our salvation in Jesus Christ. 

Have you found contentment in Jesus? His peace is freely and eternally yours.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Skiing In The Swiss Alps

As I mentioned in a previous post, my friend Emily came to visit us recently and we got to see lots of new places and enjoy some awesome new experiences with her. The highlight of our time together was probably skiing in The Alps. It was my first time ever skiing so it was more like falling than it was skiing, but wow did we have an awesome view! Jared and I had been to the quaint snowy town of Zermatt, Switzerland once before when my parents were here but it was very cloudy that day. This trip we had perfect weather not only for skiing, but for seeing the infamous Matterhorn...the most popular peak in Europe. You better believe I took LOTS of pictures! :) Here are just a few of my favourites....

Zermatt, Switzerland

The mighty Matterhorn up close and personal! :)

Jared and I skiing & snowboarding in the Swiss Alps near the Matterhorn
That is the slope behind was so steep and scary...but beautiful! :)

Jared and I in front of The Matterhorn

Me & The Matterhorn :)

Right before hitting the slopes!

Em in front of The Matterhorn

Jared and I on the streets of Zermatt with the Matterhorn as our backdrop

One of the many gorgeous views of the town of Zermatt

Zermatt Cathedral

Zermatt at night

Enjoying a pint at the local pub after a full day of skiing

Cute little bakery in Zermatt, Switzerland

Cluster of chalets in Zermatt, Switzerland

Enjoying the views!

Zermatt is definitely one of our favourite spots in Switzerland. It was nice to have a mini-vacation from everyday life here.We enjoyed lots of laughs and made a lifetime of memories. Lots more to share with you from our adventures with Emily! I still have tons of photos to go through from our travels so keep checking back for those! :)