swedish midsommer and yosemite bound

Monday, June 30


Have I ever mentioned to you all that my dad is Swedish and that we are kinda-sorta-really into being Swedish? We grew up hosting our Swedish cousins (many of them came to live with us), and visiting our Swedish family in the mother land. Some of my most idyllic memories happened around picking berries and milking cows at my family's farm in Sweden, swooning over the quint yellow and red houses, swimming in their endless lakes, eating crayfish dinners on warm breezy nights, and being spellbound in Stockholm's old city of Gamla Stan.

Four years ago Kevin was introduced to my lovely family in Sweden, as we jumped into a week of Swedish craziness at a family reunion in central southern Sweden. For a week, our family toured all the birth places of our immigrant family, ate delicious food, sang Swedish songs, and just generally got to know everyone on a deeper level. It was one of the most amazing weeks of my life, and i'm so happy Kevin was able to share it with me.

Since then, we've hosted many of my Swedish cousins at our home, and now, four years later, we are all headed to a week of Swedish fun at a retreat center in Yosemite! Our whole big Swedish family has made the trek across the pond and over to California! Kevin and I leave today, and I'm so excited for all the activities planned! {think campfires, hiking, and even a Swedish Midsommer celebration complete with a maypole! epp!!}  Not to mention we will be in one of the most magnificent valleys in all the land, Yosemite.

For more of the fun, follow along on instagram here!

Happy Swedish week to me, and Happy American week to you! 

A calling {even when it's boring!}

Thursday, June 26

I'll admit, the last few days i've been viably restless with this season i'm living in right now…mainly, that i'm in grad school {sound familiar?}. In the last week, a few friends have emailed me some very glamorous job opportunities that literally looked like perfect jobs for Kev and I. One was in Uganda doing really great work with an awesome company, another "required" world travel (as if that isn't the best thing EVER!) doing inspirational work with water all over the globe. I felt a shade depressed that we couldn't just pick up and GO. I tried to reason with God, asking him why I wasn't done with this masters program sooner, because "hello God, this is the perfect job for us, and NOW'S THE TIME!". {cue the Good Lord and his bemusment!}

Not to mention, the world cup is on now and all I want to do is WATCH SOCCER. And then there's the beach, and family reunions, and all my taped "House Hunter International" shows that I still need to watch, and i'm like "why am I in school again??, because everything else looks so much more fun!". And instead, i'm slaving away reading textbooks, discussing in online forums, and punching keys to write papers.  Today I sat sentimental in Kev's lap, and asked him "what am I doing?".

He laughed. And I did too.

Because at the bottom of all of this restlessness, I know without a shadow of a doubt that i'm living into my calling. That i'm fulfilling a dream that God has set deep inside of me. And sometimes our calling requires hard work. Dedication. commitment. And boring days.

I really do believe we were all made for something great. Something full of meaning and purpose that fills our soul with an energy from the one who created LIFE itself. God has given each of us a slice of his Kingdom that we get to bring to earth through our actions and love, kindness and peace.

But sometimes our calling is boring and there's no confetti.

Sweet Jesus was given the greatest calling of them all, to come to this world and love the heck out of us crazy people, die on a cross to bring us ultimate healing and relationship with God, and then reign. He had the most epic of callings,

and yet,

he labored as an obscure carpenter under his father for years. boring. 
he sat at the temples and learned scriptures hours upon hours. boring
he walked around in a desert for 40 days. boring. 

And yet all these boring things prepared him to live his calling. The calling that saved me, saved you. And while these seemingly insignificant tasks were monotonous, yes, and boring, they were life changing for the world, for my very soul.

If you are in a place that you find incredibly boring or routine, take heart! This might be part of the training grounds for some epic calling God may have on your life. I worked a non-profit job for many years that at times was incredibly routine and monotonous (and I may or may not have speculated that my eye balls were going to fall out of my head if I had to look at the computer screen for one more minute!) the experience I gained was the exact skill I was asked to perform over in Nepal for the aftercare home. And that was not boring, but brilliant. But I needed that training before hand to equip and prepare me for something greater.

And so as I labor to gain my masters degree in marriage and family therapy, and become a counselor, I remember that this is my training grounds for something God is stirring deep within my soul. I know that He has something prepared for me that is life altering, that is useful and productive, and that is kingdom building. But for now, my job is to trust him and work hard. To allow Him to pour into me, so that I may pour out love to others.

lean into your calling with hope, expectancy, and faith,
even when it is boring.

Happy day friends!

"set a fire down in my soul, 
that I can't contain, 
and I can't control. 
I need more of you God, 
I need more of you God" 

His grace

Monday, June 23

"After all the words and all the ink and all the blank pages painted black with the adjectives of you, one thing is abundantly clear: Nothing I write will ever be enough to sum you up" - T.K. Gregson

It was exactly two weeks ago that Kevin had his heart attack. And it has been two precious weeks of staring at him while he sleeps, cherishing his breath that rises and falls softly on his pillow. Two weeks of being so blood-pumpingly aware of how he is my other half, amazed at all the little ways he makes me feel adored. Two sobering weeks of realizing how life would have looked so different without him, and two weeks of falling before the Lord in awe of his grace.

To be a partner with another human being is a marvelous gift. That God would dream up this inspiring delight of marriage, two humans coming together to love one another and be a gift to the world, is beautiful.

Praying today that God gives you perspective on your relationships. Grace, every glorious, ever tender, and abundantly loving, can pour and be the balm on whatever you are experiencing today.

Exodus 14:14
"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still" 

Istanbul, day 2

Friday, June 20

We had seen so many sites our first day in Istanbul, that we couldn't believe we had only just scratched the surface on this magnificent city! We still had a jammed packed day of major sites to see!! On our list for Day 2 was: The Grand Bazaar, The Spice Market, A cruise of the Bosphorus, and the Turkish Bath. What a line up, right? 

To begin, what I loved about Istanbul is that it felt so real, so genuine. Yes, like any big city, there were a lot of tourists. But walking the streets in Istanbul was a pleasant reminder that daily life for the locals was happening all around us! You'll notice below that I snapped a lot of pictures of Turkish men and women just living life, shopping and smoking and eating side by side the tourists! It was great. 

Our first stop was the Grand Bazaar! Oh my stars, talk about instant stimulation that just doesn't stop! The colors! The merchandise! The shop keepers yelling at every tourist walking by! It was quite the scene, and I drank it in slowly. I literally saw about 100 things I wanted to buy, but fortunately knew if we bought anything this day, I'd have to carry it around with me the entire trip! So Kevin and I decided our shopping would all come at the end of the trip when we were back in IST. 

After the Grand Bazaar, we headed for the Spice Market. In my personal opinion, I actually loved the Spice Market more. It felt more authentic middle eastern! All sorts of spices, dried fruits, and baklava were tempting me to eat them! I'll have you know I picked up a lot of free samples, and as a treat bought some incredible dried fruit! 

Then came the scenic cruise along the Bosphorus!  The Bosphorus is essentially a straight that separates  Europe from Asia, and connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. We settled onto the top deck of the cruise, and took in the vivid colors of the water and lovely buildings lining the waters edge. (Rick Steve's has a bit of a cruise tour if you want to follow along while on the cruise!) 

After the cruise, we headed for our most curious event of the day…The Turkish Baths. I will be sharing more about these baths in another post, but let me just say, they will blow your mind. They are hands down one of the coolest cultural experiences i've ever had! Not to mention i've never been more relaxed!! 

To end the evening, Kevin and I found an amazing restaurant that had rooftop seating. We ate a most delicious meal while sipping wine, and staring out at the night time view of the Blue Mosque. Truly, a perfect way to end our day! 

As you can see, Istanbul has no lack of sights! More to come soon!! Happy weekend friends!