Sunday, December 20, 2015

2015 Thankfuls

To say that I am late on this post it quite the understatement, but the tradition must continue!

Usually when asked, people share people and things that they are thankful for.  I have had the nagging thought for a long time, "What if I was a starving, homeless, physically disabled, unclothed, orphaned child?"  "What does that child have to be thankful for?"

I realize that this is a sad and graphic picture to paint, but it gets to the heart of the questions, "what can I be thankful for regardless of my circumstances?" and "can I truly give thanks in any situation?"

Past Years: 2014 and 2012 (there are others under the Thankfuls tab)

According to my worldview, the resounding answer is, "YES!"  So I tried to take it on for this year's thankful list:

1.) God is Sovereign - He has supreme authority
2.) God is Faithful - He does not leave me nor forsake me
3.) God is Good - regardless
4.) God has a plan
5.) God's plan includes saving me FROM sin and evil and saving me TO a community of believers
6.) God offers believers Peace that passes all understanding
7.) God is Wise - Because God is Wise and Good, I can trust His Sovereignty
8.) God offers us Rest - not veg out and do nothing, but rest for our souls
9.) God's Word
10.) God is Eternal - I do not need to worry about a time when He will not Be
11.) God is All-Knowing
12.) God is Big - bigger than _________ (let's not create false dichotomies)
13.) God Creates - He created and continues to Create
14.) God can and does Redeem
15.) God is accessible - I can pray and be heard
16.) God Blesses - this may be repetitive of 6 and 8, He has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Eph. 1:3)
17.) We have the Holy Spirit
18.) We are not alone
19.) God is my Provider
20.) God is my Friend
21.) God is Light and in Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5)
22.) God is our Hope - and offers us hope in all circumstances
23.) God is our Father - this
24.) God is LOVE - God defines what love looks like
25.) God is our Refuge
26.) and Strength
27.) An Ever Present Help in times of trouble (Psalms 41:6)
28.) God is Joy and offers us His Joy
29.) God is the Performer of Miracles
30.) God sent Jesus so that we may have life and life to the full
31.) God is Just - even when I do not see it
32.) God is Healer - physically, emotionally, relationally
33.) God does not fit into the box I try to make for Him, after all he is wild
34.) God Forgives
35.) God does not give us a spirit of Fear, but of power, love, and self control (2 Timothy 1:7)
36.) God Rescues (maybe I already said that in #4 and #5?)
37.) God is Passionate about His Glory
38.) God has shown us community within Himself - Trinitarian
39.) God has made a helper suitable for man
40.) God remembers and keeps his Covenants
41.) God has Built his Church and the gates of Hell can not prevail against it
42.) Jesus scorned the shame - so we do not have to
43.) God is the Deliverer from Fear
44.) God has proven himself trustworthy
45.) God has given each believer Spiritual Gifts
46.) The Holy Spirit is our deposit,
47.) guarantee
48.) and Seal (2 Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 1:13)
49.) God disciplines us
50.) We have an Example in Jesus
51.) Our Identity is in Christ
52.) God is my Joy - not a temporary emotion based on circumstances, but a permanent attitude of my Heart (because of Who HE is and What HE has done)

What are you thankful for?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Dublin Day #3 (2015 Summer Adventures Part 8)

Disclaimer: The main reason for these posts is to remember our trip in the summer of 2015. There will probably be too many details and lots of parenthetic statements. I teach math - not writing.  We did not take any picture on this day/the things we wanted to take picture of were not allowed to be photographed.

We both woke up at 6am.  Ian showered while Alissa ran.  We ate breakfast at 7am at the hostel.  Someone had closed the window in our room overnight and it was so stuffy in there! After breakfast, Alissa showered and we packed up. We checked out of the hostel. Today was the first warm day that we had experienced; we did not need our jackets. We walked to the Dublin Castle and sat in the garden and played hangman. We were waiting for the Chester Beatty Library to open, but realized that it was not going to open for at least another hour. So we headed to a nearby bank and used the ATM and explored some streets near Trinity College that we had not seen yet.

image via google images

We decided that we were hungry and ready for second breakfast. We went to The Elephant and Castle in the Temple Bar area. I remember that it looked like a super upscale place (and we had our backpacks and everything with us) but it ended up being really reasonable and still nice!  We both decided on the California Breakfast - it was so delicious! Orange juice, two eggs, potatoes, bacon, french toast and coffee all for €21 for two people (that was about 25 dollars for two people). *I did not write this part down in our travel journal, but I think I was slightly grumpy before we had second breakfast.  I remember being so thankful that we found good food at a reasonable price and felt much better after some coffee.

Properly fueled we now set off (again) for Chester Beatty Library (which I think is right behind or connected to the Dublin Castle). We looked around a bit - a lot of really old pieces of literature.  I, of course, did not write down what we saw and have now forgotten. I think we saw the original (or very early copy) of Handel's Messiah Chorus along with some of Shakespeare's originals. There was a lot to see and I get overwhelmed easily in situations like that, so I took breaks on the benches they provided. There was a special exhibit featuring Asian (mainly Japanese I think) pieces, but we walked through it pretty quickly as I felt like we saw everything when we were in Asia.  

Ian had to use the restroom (which was like a block away) so I grabbed some brochures about the library to look at and sat on a bench. I thought, "Surely there must be more than just one exhibit in this place." (There was also a gift shop and a restaurant). After Ian came back from the restroom, we found out that indeed there was one more exhibit. There were three parts to the exhibit - Christianity, Islamic, and Eastern Religion. We spent all of our time in the Christian section. It was unbelievable! We saw ancient recordings of Scripture. Pieces of manuscript on papyrus ranging from 150AD-250AD and third and fourth century pieces of Numbers, Genesis, Daniel, Esther, Romans, Acts, Hebrews, and 1 Corinthians...really incredible. It was a challenge to take in and process that we were seeing writings (copies) of what we read in the Bible only a few generations after Jesus was on the earth.  Thanks to Ian studying Greek in seminary, I know a little bit and was able to look at the 1 Corinthians 13 papyrus and find the word, "agape" over and over.  After we went through the exhibit twice we went to the rooftop garden and tried take in what we had just seen.  The crazy thing is - we almost missed it.  When I think about our trip to the Europe - this is definitely one of the highlights.

We went to the Revenue Museum next - it was a fail.  It was literally about taxes and revenue.  We went through the entire museum in about 5 minutes.  We decided to find a park.  We walked to St. Steven's Green and sat on a bench.  The weather was so nice that we were quite comfortable.  After 30 minutes or so of people watching we headed back to Dame Street (what Ian and I would consider the "downtown" area of Dublin) and grabbed a snack at Starbucks and took the bus to the airport.  Check-in and security went well.  

I remember thinking that I could run the airport much better than whomever was in charge (Ian would say that I say this somewhat often about many things though).  Our flight was delayed an hour or so.  It was only 40 minutes in the air - which I remember being thankful for.  It was a large plane but the seats were tight and there was a bachelor party on the flight.  One of the guys in the wedding party was dressed as a bride.  Once we landed we walked through "customs". I really wanted my passport stamped so I was not happy about the lack of customs.

We took an AirLink bus into Edinburgh's City Center.  Our hostel was an easy short walk from the bus stop.  The two guys that checked us in at the hostel were really informative and nice. We found our {private aka not a dorm} room and put our stuff down.  Then we went in search of dinner.  We walked to Rose Street.  We found a Scottish restaurant on the second floor of a building.  Alissa had the Sausage and Mash with a Innis & Gunn Pale Ale.  Ian had fish and chips with a Yardhouse (from London?) Pale Ale.  It was great food - big portions.  We gave the place a 8/10.  The carpet was a red and blue plaid design - nice Scottish touch.  We walked back to our hostel. Ian headed out the Black Dragon for a pre-release of Magic Origins. Ian picked white and ended up playing green-blue deck. He went 2 wins, 1 tie, an d2 losses. He met many locals and had fun chatting and playing games.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dublin Day #2 (2015 Summer Adventure Part 7)

Disclaimer: The main reason for these posts is to remember our trip in the summer of 2015. There will probably be too many details and lots of parenthetic statements. Feel free to scroll through and just look at pictures. Also, I teach math - not writing.

Second full day in Dublin!  Ian woke up at 6am showered and ate breakfast.  I woke up closer to 7-7:30am and took a fake shower.  We went to Costa Coffee (located near our hostel) for coffee and protein.  (The hostel had free breakfast but it was all carbs - white bread/toast, sugary cereal, not really anything to stick to your bones if you are walking around all day.)  We planned out our day and talked about how hard it is to stay in dorm-style hostels.  But we like to travel so we hope we can stay young (in spirit) and continue to stay in hostels.

We set off for Christ Church.  We read the history on a plague outside.  It was established in 1030! We decided to attend/participate in Morning Prayer (therefore free admission!).  There were 2 Anglican Priests, us, and 1 other person there for morning prayer.  We did responsive readings from the Common Book of Prayer.  It lasted about 15 minutes and was pretty straightforward.

One of the stain glass windows from Christ Church
Afterwards, we went down into the crypt.  This was not my cup of tea.  It was spooky.  The crypt was more commercialized than Ian remember it being (Ian was in Dublin in Spring 2007).  It was a pretty big crypt (I am not sure what the average size of crypts are, but bigger than I thought it would be).  There was a copy of the Magna Carta, old communion sets, and some outfits from "The Tutors" (a TV series that was recorded in the Crypt at times.)  Also there was a display of a dead cat and rat - so gross and yuck.
This is the exterior of Christ Church...I can't remember exactly why we took this picture or why we used this angle....
We walked to Jameson Distillery next and purchased tickets for 30 euros for a tour.  During the 20 minute wait for the tour to begin, Ian had an Irish Coffee.  He rated it an 8/10.

A picture from our tour, Ian with his Irish Coffee, and a cool light fixture made from Jameson bottles

The tour was great!  We hit the jackpot as far as tour guides go.  Niles (our awesome tour guide) was kind, enthusiastic, entertaining, and an encourager of photographs and questions.  Each tour stop was well done and not boring.  It was a good concise mix of history and current operations.  At one point Niles was talking about the specific ratio of malted to unmalted barely that is used in Jameson Whiskey.  I thought, "Ding! Ding! Ding!  I am going to find out the ratio and then tell my students about math in real life!" So I asked about the ratios.  Niles answered that the ratios are a secret and different for each of Jameson's 39 whiskeys.  He went on to explain that you have to have a PhD in Chemical Engineering to be considered for the job of a distiller.  (How fascinating and mathtastic!)

The tour ended with a tasting.  There was a Scottish Wiskey - twice distilled - it was my favorite and Ian said he could taste the smoky-peaty flavor.  There was Jamesons - distilled three times - Ian's favorite and it was a crisp and clean taste.  Then there was Jack Daniels - single distilled - corn flavored (we found out which was after we had tasted each.)

The reason that Jameson is not clear is due to be aged in recycled barrels - either port wine, sherry, or bourbon barrels. After the tasting, we got either a shot of Jameson or Ginger Ale, Jameson, and Lime.  Ian had the first, I had the second (it was delicious!).  We thought the tour was well-done.  We would definitely do it again or suggest it to others.

We went to Christopher's (super close to Jamesons) for lunch.  Alissa had a pannini and Ian had a bagel sandwich with soup.  After lunch we sent off of a hunt for a sweatshirt/jacket for Alissa.  I planned on bringing one but forgot it at 3am the day we left.  We browsed for about an hour on Henry Street.  Not much to choose from, but I ended up finding a grey fleece for about 17 euros (and there is no tax charged on clothes)!

We saw this when we were out walking - how Irish!

We walked backed to the hostel and napped for over 3 hours!  We woke up refreshed and headed out to find dinner.  We went in search of an "Irish pub".  After walking around the Temple Bar Area we ended up at the Trinity Bar.  Ian had Arthur & Guinness Pie and Alissa had Beef Stew.  It was good, filling food.  We also had potato skins.  The music was loud and Mumford & Sons was the band of choice.  We ended our day at Starbucks - recording our day and reviewing our budget.

The verse we memorized during our trip was "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."  Psalm 28:7

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

First Full Day in Dublin (2015 Summer Adventure Part 6)

Disclaimer: The main reason for these posts is to remember our trip in the summer of 2015. There will probably be too many details and lots of parenthetic statements. Feel free to scroll through and just look at pictures. Also, I teach math - not writing.

Our first full 24 hour day in Dublin was FULL!  Ian woke up around 5am and took a shower.  He hung out in the community room until 7am - planning our day and researching fun things to do.  I woke up around 5:30am and went for a 4 mile run along the river.  When I got done, we ate the free breakfast provided by the hostel - bread, cereal, juice, and coffee.  After breakfast, I took a shower and we got organized for the day.

We set off to Starbucks and had a real cup of coffee.  We decided what we wanted to do for the day.  We walked to Guiness factory and bought our ticket for the day.  (If I remember correctly, they only sell so many tickets per day.  Once you have the admission ticket, you can enter at any time.)  I filled my water bottle in their restroom. (This happened constantly on our trip - find a place for Alissa to get some water.)  Once we had our tickets (that cost 36 euros) we headed back across town to Trinity College.  On our way there, we stopped in a grocery store and bought some cheese, a smoothie, and a scone.  The small shop had a lot of carbs - crackers, bread, etc and dairy.

We were only interested in part of Trinity College and that was the Long Room and Book of Kells.  The intro exhibits to the Book of Kells were interesting and informative.  The viewing room of the Book of Kells was unfortunate.  (The Book of Kells is an (overly?) illustrated book of the Gospels in Latin from around 800 - if this trip was anything, it was a history lesson).  People stood around the display and looked and did NOT move.  I thought some assertive pace-setters would have been helpful.  We got a couple of glances at it (no pictures allowed).  I got frustrated so we headed upstairs to the Long Room.
The Long Room looked like a Harry Potter Room
The coolest thing on display was a harp.  It is the oldest harp in Ireland and the design for Ireland's seal/symbol was based on the shape of the harp.  The second coolest thing was a parchment calling the citizens of Ireland to freedom in 1916.
Oldest Harp in Ireland 
The Long Room housed 200,000 of the oldest books of Trinity College.  They had busts of famous figures such Plato and Irish statesmen in front of each bookshelf.  They also had displays down the middle of the room.  The Hobbit was on display and categorized under Norse Myth.  We finished exploring the Long Room and headed to the Dublin Castle.
Dublin Castle - bust (for us).  We used the restroom, looked around, and headed out.  We decided to grab some lunch and went to Bobo's.  I had a full Irish breakfast - YUM! Ian had The Dubliner burger - it had a special sauce and good fries.  I will forever be a fan of Irish and English breakfasts!  They usually include bacon and ham, eggs, tomato, baked beans, and bread.  Bobo's was my childhood dream come true - there were murals of cows on the wall and cowhide on the back of the benches.  It was a fun restaurant.  We were both a bit tired at the end of the lunch (jet lag?).
We walked to St. Patrick's (THEE Saint Patrick's Cathedral).  We did not want to pay to go inside, so we sat outside in the park and took pictures.  The park was nice, the church was pretty.  We saw the well where Saint Patrick used to baptize people in the 5th Century.
We started to meander towards the Guinness Factory.  We stopped in several thrift store on our way, but did not find any gems.  One thing I learned while living in Korea - don't just do the tourist-y things.  Walk into small shops, look into the barber's, peruse the post office - try to take in the ordinary along with the extraordinary.  It reinforces the idea that the way they do things in other countries and cultures is not necessarily good or bad, just different.
The Guinness Storehouse is a seven story building where we learned about the brewing process.  It was a really well done museum (I don't know if museum is the right word to use, but it is the best I can come up with).  It is a self-guided tour of each stage of the brewing process - which is scientific and has changed over the years.  It was interactive and engaging.  We skipped the Tasting Room where you learn how to pour (from a tap) the perfect pint.  The tour ends on the seventh floor with a free pint and a 360 degree view of the city.
On our way back towards the hostel, we stopped in St. Augustine and St. John the Baptist Cathedral (the longest name ever?).  We voted (lit an electric candle) and prayed to Jesus.  We hope Jesus wins.  In our experience, Mary usually does.  We ate dinner at Apache Pizza for dinner - Hawaiian pizza.  It was odd to us that a restaurant in Ireland is named after a Native American Tribe.  The pizza was only 10 euros - we felt like it was a good deal.  We headed to the hostel, checked our email, and went to bed between 7-8pm.  We were exhausted.

What a full day! Looking back, I am impressed with how much we did in a day.  I made a note that the weather was windy and chilly.  If the sun was out, it was comfortable.  I also made a note about how good the coffee shop music is in Ireland.  It is from 10-15 years ago, but far superior to American coffee shop music.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Day 1 in Dublin (2015 Summer Adventures Part 5)

Disclaimer: The main reason for these posts is to remember our amazing trip in the summer of 2015.  There will probably be too many details and lots of parenthetic statements.  Feel free to scan and just look at pictures.  Also, I am a runner - not a writer.

We arrived in Dublin around 11:30am local time.  Customs were a breeze.  I was on the hunt for water.  I was feeling fairly nauseous from the lack of sleep and too much coffee drank on the flight.  Would you believe that there is only one drinking fountain in all of Dublin's International Airport!?!?  My perseverance paid off and I found it.

We took an express bus from the airport into the city.  There were about 9 stops during its 30 minute route.  My very first memory of seeing Dublin was Aldi's.  They have Aldi's in Ireland, but not in Colorado - how is that possible?  We also saw a fun bridge that was designed to look like a harp - harps are the national emblem of Ireland.  We got off on at the correct stop (in the pouring rain) and then proceeded to get quite lost.  Well maybe we were not lost, we just could not locate the hostel for the life of us.  We did not understand how the streets were labeled and we just kept wandering.  The streets were not straight and some times they would change names at intersections.

We finally found our hostel (Barnacles Temple Bar House) and checked in. Our bunks were not ready so we walked to the nearby Joy Cafe.  It was a quaint place.  They had sandwiches and tea.  Alissa had 7up and Ian had a HUGE chicken club sandwich.  It was delicious and hit the spot for both of us.
If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be backpacking through the UK for 3+ weeks with just one backpack - I would not have believed you.  But we did it and not only survived, but thrived.  AND I packed running clothes.  

When we got back to the hostel, we were allowed to head up to our room.  We dropped the uneaten half of Ian's sandwich off in the fridge and located the restrooms.  We settled our bags in our lockers.  We got bunk beds - Ian took the lower one and I claimed the top bunk.  I grabbed my eye mask and feel asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.  I think at this point we had gotten about 4 hours of sleep in the past 50 hours.  We slept from 3pm to 5am the next morning.  I did wake up somewhere around 10pm and eat half of the delicious chicken club sandwich.  We both slept fairly soundly but we were treated to a free concert through the open window in our room.  We shared the room with about 10 other people.  The bathroom was attached to the room - which was nice.  Our hostel was located in a central and fun area of Dublin.  I would definitely stay there again.

So our first day in Dublin was not that exciting - I don't think we even took any pictures.  But we made it!  And adventure was just waiting for us!

This was taken in Ireland - later in our trip.
The verse we memorized during our trip was "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."  Psalm 28:7

Monday, July 6, 2015

San Francisco Layover (2015 Summer Adventures Part 4)

Disclaimer: The main reason for these posts is to remember our amazing trip in the summer of 2015.  There will probably be too many details and lots of parenthetic statements.  Feel free to scroll through and just look at pictures.  Also, I am a runner - not a writer.

On Monday, July 6th we started our UK Backpacking Adventure Trip at 3am.  We had gone to bed pretty late the night before, but we were so excited that we did not feel too tired.  You know who your friends are when you ask, "Can you drive us to the airport at 4am?"

We got to the airport and realized that we were not the only people catching an early flight the Monday morning after the July 4th weekend (whoops!).  We got in a long security line at 4:53am and got through security by 5:30.  Our flight boarded at 5:40am.  We napped and read the in-flight magazine on our way to San Fran (it is a somewhat long story as to why flew from Denver to SFO to Dublin if you want to hear the whole long thing ask me)  We arrived in SFO at 7:45am (local time).  We met Michael (who had been a volunteer since 2001) at the tourist info desk.  He gave us a briefing on BART (Bay Area Public Transportation) and attractions to check out.

Equipped with some maps and info, we set off.  I thought California had played a bad trick on us - it was freezing!  And the subway/BART was ghe-tto! (Ian would say that I am acting like a first world white girl right now...ahem).  Once we got to the Empardicio stop, I was happy to see palm trees and the ocean - wootwoot!  We started at Pier 0 and started walking towards Pier 40 (maybe a mile-ish).  We stopped for coffee along the way.  All the piers were along the ocean.  We toured Pier 39, it had cool shops.  We tried to see the seals that usually hang out in the area, but there was only 1 and it was not a healthy seal.  We learned that the seals swim to Mexico in the summer and then return in early to mid August.
We could see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Thankfully, California was good to us and it warmed up.

San Francisco is to China as bike rides are to 1 dollah, 1 dollah, 1 dollllaaahhhh.  (Everywhere you go, there are people aggressively trying to talk you into a taking a bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge just like the one dollar people in China).

We found the Buena Vista Cafe.  It is about 2 blocks off the ocean and known as the American Home of the Irish Coffee.  We hang out with some friends every Friday night and every Friday night we have an Irish Coffee after dinner.  It signals "weekend" to us.  We split an Irish Coffee - the best part (in my opinion) is the hand whipped, whipped cream - yum!  The bartender was quirky and beyond laid-back.  He made the Irish Coffees without a care if he splashed too much coffee or accidentally spilled some.

Then we walked up a long steep hill (we had our backpacks with us all day) to see Lombard Street.  There were great views of the ocean.  We took a few pictures once we found Lombard Street and then headed back down to Fisherman's Warf.

Everyone (and I do mean every single person that we know from the west coast) holds a high opinion of In-N-Out.  Neither Ian or I had eaten there before so we thought, "when in California, eat some InNOut".
The place was PACKED.  We both had a burger and fries, the burger scored a 6.5/10 for us.  Once we finished lunch, we had back to the BART stop and returned to the airport.  We got through security fast.  We found our gate and just hung out for a while.  We boarded the plane around 4:45-5pm.  I remember thinking, "We could fly home right now and I would feel like we have been on vacation...and the adventure hasn't even started."

It was not the best flight of my life, but it was definitely not the worst.  It was also a long flight (10ish hours) but we have definitely flown for longer.  I drank too much coffee, not enough water.  There were unsupervised teenagers.  And the little TV on the back of the seats was hit or miss.  On the upside, we had a great "goody bag" with inflatable neck pillows, earbuds, earplugs, green socks, toothbrush and toothpaste.

The verse we memorized during our trip was "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."  Psalm 28:7

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Trip to Utah Part B (2015 Summer Adventures Part 3)

At this point, I just want to skip ahead and tell you all about backpacking in the UK, but I also teach math (and am an istj), which means we must go in order:

On Friday, we broke camp and headed north towards Salt Lake City.  We stopped by Utah Lighthouse Ministries and met Sandra Tanner!  This has been on our (Ian's) bucket list for about 5 years, so it was really an amazing privilige to be able to meet Sandra Tanner and chat with her.  She was so nice!  We got to stay with some friends in the Salt Lake City area. Neal, the pastor of Mountain Road Church, and his wife, Christie, are such sweet people!  We had such a good time getting to know them.  Since we were staying with them, we stopped by the church and helped take down decorations from their week of Vacation Bible School.

On Saturday we enjoyed a slow morning of breakfast, coffee, and visiting with Neal and Christie.  We decided to head to Antelope Island State Park and go for a hike.  Antelope Island is a really cool little island.  You drive across a long bridge to get to the island.

Thank you Google Maps for showing us where Antelope Island is

We stopped by a the park office to get a map and buy postcards.  They have bison, antelope, mule deer, and bighorn sheep.  We tried to see some (or any) of these animals while we were driving to the trail head.  We did not see any animals (foreshadowing?).  The first thing I noticed when we parked at the trail head was the lack of trees.  I think Salt Lake City has a similar elevation of Denver and the sun is powerful in June.  We had already slathered ourselves with sunscreen so we set off.

We started hiking.  I said, "Wow!  There are a lot of grasshoppers!"  We kept hiking. We tried to talk, we tried to play games, we tried to pretend that the trail was not the incarnation of the plague of the grasshoppers (I am stretching it a bit...locust and grasshoppers are similar), but it.was.not.possible.

There were so many grasshoppers!  Each step there were 4 or 5 grasshoppers jumping up - which may not sound bad when you are at home in your jammies, sipping coffee and writing a blog post, but there is a reason that God sent a plague of locust/grasshopper. {Lordhavemercy, they are so annoying!} After about a mile, we stopped and tried to decide what we should do: Hike 6 miles with grasshoppers or turn around and do something else.  Since we were on vacation and there was no prize for enduring the grasshoppers, we turned around and headed back to the car.

We did take a picture before leaving Antelope Island.
We decided to drive east and check out Park City, Utah.  Ian drove the 2ish hours to Park City while I complained about dehydration and feeling nausea.  As soon as we arrived in Park City, I thought, "We are back in Colorado - this feels like a mountain town".  I am not exactly sure how to explain what that means, but Park City did not feel like the rest of Utah.  It was a cute town (by cute I mean, very clean, up to date, and suburb white girl).  We found the Wasatch Brew Pub and caught a World Cup Soccer Game while sipping a Polygamy Porter (actual name of the beer - no comment) and learning about the history of the Wasatch Brew Company.

So surprising/shocking that it is funny (that was my reaction at least)
We headed back to Salt Lake City - it was a pretty drive.  We enjoyed a fun evening of grilling out with Neal, Christie, their son, and grandkids.  It is so special to hear stories of God's faithfulness and mighty power.  Any time we have heard stories about God moving in great ways, we have also heard about the challenge, difficulty, and pain of following God - it helps keep our feet planted firmly.

Sunday we packed, headed to church, and then started our drive back to Colorado.  We took Interstate 80 back (instead of Interstate 70 which we drove on our way out).  This took us more through Wyoming.  I love driving on interstates in the west - it is so relaxing (to me).  I was somewhat concerned as we kept getting wind warnings (gusts of 60 mph!?!?) but we were fine.
One more picture from "Grasshopper" Island
I think we got home around 10pm and just went to bed.  It was so fun to camp and vacation in Utah.  The culture is different than Colorado.  The scenery is different than Colorado. We had a great time and made fun memories!

Up next: Our trip (in 25 blog posts probably) to the UK!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Trip to Utah (2015 Summer Adventures Part 2)

We got back from IL at 10pm on a Friday night and we were back on the road Tuesday morning.  I am not sure if I have perfected the art of packing for a camping trip, but I am getting better (essentially I just pack the whole apartment).  We had a good drive to Utah.  Some things to note:
  • I thought it was cray cray that the speed limit in Colorado was 75 mph.  It is 80 mph in Utah (and Wyoming).
  • If you enter into Utah and see a sign on Interstate 70 that say, "No services for the next 110 miles".  Believe the sign - it is true.
  • If a bird flies into your windshield when you are driving 85 miles an hour, the bird will die.  And if the driver happens to be Alissa, the driver will scream {loudly}. 
They had a Welcome to Utah sign at a rest stop

We arrived in Richfield, Utah and set up camp at the KOA by 4 or 5pm.  We used Richfield as our "base camp" for the first part of our trip.  We were hoping to catch the USA Women's Soccer Game (it was during the World Cup).  We drove about 20-25 minutes and found a restaurant on the side of the road (not in a town, just in the middle of nowhere on its own) and got our fix of Women's Soccer - success!
Our campsite.  We were thankful for the shade!
Wednesday we had a relaxing morning with going for a run, showering, making breakfast, and reading.  In the afternoon, we drove to Bryce Canyon and went hiking.  Wow!  It was beautiful.  The rock formations called "hoodoos" are really incredible to see.  It is hard to believe that the rocks can "balance" on top of each other.

There were so many spectacular views!
While we were hiking, we started talking to some other hikers.  They happened to be 2 guys that were studying to be priests in Cleveland, OH.  And they also happened to be from Daegu, South Korea (which is where we lived!!)  We ended up hiking with them for about a mile.  They were so much fun to talk to.  And Augustine (his English name) had a selfie stick.  

After hiking, we drove around to a different side of the park and did another short hike.  We found a place for pizza and then headed back to the main park. Once a year, Bryce Canyon has an astronomy festival.  They purposely schedule the festival during a new moon so that the sky will be really dark. There were volunteers from the Salt Lake Astronomical Society who had telescopes set up.  You could walk around to different telescopes.  We got to see Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn.  The telescope viewing did not start until 10:30 and we are old so we did not hang out for too long.  We were about 2 hour drive from our campsite so it was a late night, but it was fun!

We slept in (as much as you can while camping) on Thursday.  We went for another run, showered, read, and relaxed.  In the afternoon it was pretty warm, so we went bowling (in air conditioning!).  Ian beat me.  We had  a good time.  In the evening we headed up to Sanpete County.  We wanted to check out Ephraim and Manti, especially during the Manti Pageant.  It was very encouraging to see so many Christians loving on Mormons and talking to them.  We saw a few missionaries and some high schoolers having really great conversations.  After we got back to our campsite, we had a fire and then headed to bed.

On Friday we broke camp and headed north to Salt Lake City.  I decided that our trip was too long for one post so stay tuned!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Trip to IL (2015 Summer Adventures Part 1)

School finished for me on a Thursday and 5am Sunday morning found us driving to Illinois.  We like to make the drive in one day.  We had a quick stop in Kansas City for a late lunch.
We were STARVING by the time we got here, but it was so worth it!

Since moving to Denver, we have made friends with a family that had lived in the Kansas City area for 6 years - they have some loved ones buried in KC, so we stopped by the cemetery to put flowers by their graves.  (If you want an interesting story, I will tell you about driving through the ghetto to buy the flowers - it was quite the experience).

My husband has amazing selfie skills!
After our quick stop, we got back on the road and made it central IL by 10pm.  We met our host family for the week (THEY WERE AMAZING!) and headed to bed.

Monday - Friday were spent learning about ministering in town and country churches.  We enjoyed learning about our "home culture" (I audited the class with Ian).  I, personally, had a good reminder how tiring it is to be a student and how hard it is to sit still.  We went on field trips to area farms, ag-related businesses, and small town services.  I could probably write so much more on all that we learned, but I am trying to be concise.

My favorite is our pig selfie

One of the blessings of the week was that Theresa's parents live in Morton, so I got to see Theresa!  We had a blast reflecting on the recent school year, what God is teaching us, and what our coming summers look like (hint: FULL of adventures for each of us).  It was so great to have a running buddy for a couple of days!

So, so, so great to get to see Theresa!  Happy Hearts!
Once we finished class on Friday (Happy 5th Anniversary to us! Woohoo!) we drove down to Ian's parents and hung out for a couple of days.  It was so great to see family and friends.  We were able to go to church on Sunday, which allowed us to see a lot of people and catch up!  And I was able to see some friends from college.

Ian's parents spoiled us the entire time we were there!  I also got to go to Greenville and see Theresa again.  And go running.

in Southern Illinois

at 3:35pm

in June


Beam me back to Colorado ASAP, Scotty.  I have turned into a humidity wimp.

Swell the chorus, speed it onward...
We then headed north and hung out with my parents for a few days.  And we got spoiled some more!  We made bubble pizza with Mom, heard the details about Dad's job (yes, you will use math in everyday life dear 15 year olds that know more than me...ahem!), and got to see my sister-in-law!  My brother was traveling for training for his job, but we had squeezed in a quick visit with them the week before.  We left for Colorado a day early so that we could stop in Iowa on our way through.  We got to see my Grandpa, his wife, Aunt Wanda, and Uncle Gary.  What a blessing family is!

The hubs comes through with his selfie skills again! (I think the picture is a bit fuzzy, but that is okay!)  

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Day in the Life {May 2015}

Although I have no intention of reviving this blog in the near future, I have set a goal of writing 4 posts before August 15th.  This will be the first.  The main objective is to remind myself what my life was like on May 8th, 2015 and what life was like in general during this season of life.

4:45am - Alarm goes off

4:50am - Exercise. I typically exercise after school, but today is busy so it is at 4:50am or never.  I use a 7 minute workout app on my phone to squats, lunges, planks, push-ups, wall sits, jumping jacks etc.  Even though it is only 7 minutes, it is a good workout.

5am - Shower/Make-up/Hair/Get ready - rejoice that it is Friday and I get to wear jeans!

5:40am - My amazing and dear husband wakes up and starts on coffee and breakfast (he is the best!)

My favorite (and daily) breakfast.  I started eating before I remember to take a picture.

5:55am - Eat breakfast while Ian reads something spiritual - usually the Bible or Charles Spurgeon Morning and Evening.

6:15am - Leave for school.  One habit that I am currently examining in my life is silence.  It is not very often that I find myself in silence.  I have been noticing how long I drive before turning on the radio.  Usually the louder my thoughts, the sooner the radio comes on.  So I have been driving in silence to and from work this semester.  If I remember, I will pray for my students.

6:38am - Arrive at school.  Prepare for the day.  Say good morning to co-workers.  Make copies.  Check my mailbox. etc.

My office space at school.  I don't have a classroom so I push my cart around to different classrooms throughout the day.

7:35am - Period 1 :: College Algebra - This is a class of seniors.  I appreciate that they have figured out the system of high school.  We are reviewing for their final next week.

8:32am - Period 2 :: Algebra I Part I - This is a class of freshman.  I appreciate that they have energy.  Most of the students have low math self-esteem (and self-efficacy).  I attempt to transform them into math warriors that can conquer any math problem.  I am rarely successful.  This class makes me laugh because you never know what someone will say.  They 

9:29am - Period 3 :: Algebra II/Trig - This is a mix of sophomores, juniors, and a couple of seniors.  I appreciate that this class is really well behaved and respectful.  Algebra II/Trig is a really challenging class for the students, but I am impressed daily at the work ethic of some of my students. 

10:27am - Period 4 :: Algebra I Part I - Another class of freshman.  I have a teacher aide in this class - I am so thankful for Mr. Cole.  He does a great job with students and it is so nice to have another adult in the room.

Not the best selfie, but it communicates what I look like on a Friday.

11:19am - LUNCH - I have a student who has been struggling on multiple levels stop by with his guidance counselor.  We try to brainstorm ways to help Joseph be more successful.  The meeting goes much longer than I expect (all of lunch).  While the bell is ringing for 5th, I grab a cup of coffee and a larabar.  

12:04pm - Period 5 :: Algebra II/Trig - Another class of sophomores and juniors.  This class LOVES to waste time which means I tell a lot of stories (and they encourage me to savor my coffee).  I appreciate how they pretend to be interested in my life so they don't have to do math.  However, I always make sure we get through all of the material.  This class also makes me laugh!
Whiteboard at the end of 5th - we were reviewing Rational Functions - (for me at least)
1:01pm - Period 6 :: Plan Period - typically I am off 6th period, but today I am subbing for a teacher who is in interviews.  I have subbed for him before - I have been blessed with the ability to memorize names fairly well - so I impress the class with remembering names from last time.  The class is Tech Theater, so we work on cleaning the shop.  I have learned to be as laid back as possible while subbing.  As long as no one is in emotional or physical danger, I try to let it all fly.

1:58pm - Period 7 :: Algebra I - I get to end my day with 30 energetic freshman.  I have a special ed. teacher in with me for 7th.  I am so thankful for Mrs. K - she has taught me so much about the world of SpEd (special ed.).  I can hold my own in an IEP meeting:)  Throughout my day I have 21 students that have a variety of disabilities that qualify them for Special Ed services.

2:50pm - School day is done - head back to my office to pack up, organize, and head home.   I can not leave until my desk is clean.  Typically I workout at 3:15ish, but we have a meeting so I head out.

3:20pm - Leave school - TGIF!  I will be back to tomorrow to catch up on grading/planning ahead for the next week.

3:48pm - Arrive home and eat a snack while talking to Ian about our days and the meeting.

4 - 6pm - Mission Team Meeting - Ian is the leading the Mission Team at our church right now.  We love encouraging and supporting the missionaries that our church supports spiritually and financially as well as keeping our congregation informed about what is going on with our missionaries.  Most of the time it seems a bit overwhelming, but we have a great team and Ian is doing an amazing job leading.

6:05pm - Change into yoga pants.  Head to Dan and Sara's.

6:30pm - Arrive at Dan and Sara's - we have the best Friday night tradition.  We go to our friend's house, hang out, and catch up.  It is so relaxing and Sara and Dan are so much fun (and they feed us).  We also love to see their son, Sean.  You never know what he is going to say, but whatever he says will be hilarious.
Not the best picture, but the only one I have of all 4 of us.  Good friends are a blessing!

10:45pm - Head home.

11pm- Get home and head to bed.  It never takes me long to fall asleep.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kingdom Mentality Convictions

Ian and I currently enrolled in a course called Marriage Plus.  It is one of those life-changing things.  We have met amazing couples and are digging deeper into how we can bring glory to God through our ministry and marriage.

We have assignments each week for Marriage Plus.  One of the assignments was to write a paper on our Kingdom Mentality Convictions.  The following is what I have submitted as my convictions (we had to keep it to one page double spaced.  I could write quite a bit more):

Jesus is Lord. Kingdom mentality has to start here. When asked what the most important commandment is, “Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and your strength.’ ”(in Mark 12:29 ESV). The idea that Jesus is Lord is an easy concept to understand, yet a difficult concept to live. Many Christians would say that Jesus is Lord of their life, but their life does not align to this belief.

In the same way, many Christians would say that the Gospel is Jesus-centered, yet live their lives as though the gospel is comfort-centered or financially responsible-centered or doctrine-centered. Kingdom mentality needs to preach, live, and show a gospel that is Jesus-centered. Because Jesus is my Lord and my gospel is centered on Jesus, I am called to be a servant of Jesus. Being a servant of Jesus requires humility and perseverance. One way to serve Jesus well is show others that to love is to obey. When I hear God speak into my life, I obey. When I read Scripture that is contrary to my current life, I submit.

I apply my kingdom mentality to my whole life. I reject what culture tells me is important and look to Jesus. I continually study Scripture to convict me, remind me of the Jesus-centered Gospel, and saturate my mind with Truth. I surround myself with others who have a Kingdom Mentality to find encouragement and strength. I continually pray that I may have the strength to comprehend what is the breadth, and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:18 &19a).