My hero from around the world

Thursday, October 29

Five years ago, I stepped into the most amazing museum i've ever experienced on my travels. Most tourists would walk right past this house and never know the incredible, rich and courageous history hidden there. Friends, being in the home of Corrie Ten Boom (in the city of Haarlem, in The Netherlands) impacted my heart like no other experience in all my adventures. She is my hero. 

If you don't know the story, made popular by Corrie's book The Hiding Place, then go buy yourself a copy right now! Corrie was a brave and faithful Dutch woman who, along with her family, hid Jews in her home during WWII. They saved the lives of hundreds, and ultimately were caught by the SS and forced into a concentration camp. Their home, which is now a museum, gives the most moving tours, describing how the family had been praying for the Jewish people every day for 100 years, and how God used them in a unique way to rescue many Jewish friends. 

Corrie spent the rest of her life traveling the world, speaking out on forgiveness and reconciliation. Portions of her family were killed by the Nazi's in a concentration camp, and after the war was over, she learned to forgive her captors, and went on to set up a rehabilitation center for many of the German people. Seriously, if you need some incredible encouragement, read The Hiding Place. I read it while we were on our SE Asia trip a few years ago, and cried sweet tears of joy. Kevin suggested I leave it at the book exchange at our hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam, so I pray someone picked it up and was blessed! 

A few short quotes of Corrie's that have helped me through many a tough time are: 

"What wings are to a bird, and sails to a ship, so is prayer to the soul. "

"There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still."

"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God" 

 I'll leave you with a beautiful poem that Corrie wrote called Life is But a Weaving:

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
Have a beautiful Thursday dear friends:) May you know that our sweet Lord cares about you so tenderly, knows you intimately, and loves you deeply. He is weaving something beautiful with you!

Oh, and if you ever make it to Holland, you must take the 15 minute train ride from Amsterdam to Haarlem to visit the home of Corrie Ten Boom:)

Morning Ideas

Monday, October 26

{photo taken by my lovely sis-in-law Jenna

I am not a morning person. I have never been, and probably never will be (i'm sure all you mama's out there are having a good laugh on this one, as i'm bound to HAVE to become a morning person with children!). I'm one of those people who wishes I was a morning person because every time I've woken up at 6am (which is rare, people!), I feel INCREDIBLY accomplished by 10am. You really can get so much done in those wee hours! But alas, God make me a night owl and I will embrace that!

Regardless of the time I wake up, I love mornings. I love the newness of the day. I love the way the sun streams through my huge window. I love breakfast. And I love the possibilities that lay ahead. But sometimes I need a little inspiration and umph to get me going! Because of my health, I had to give up coffee about 4 years ago, and since then i've been creative when it comes to how I energize in the morning!

Below are a few ways I maximize the morning hours:) And I'd love to hear your ideas…

1. Prayer and Meditation: Waking up, I need some fuel to light my fire:) The best way i've learned how to fill up with love, positivity and kindness is by allowing God's love to just saturate me! We truly do give off what we put in. The days I take time to center my mind, rest in God's truth, and surrender my day to Him, the more confident and full I feel to take on the day! Along with reading my Bible and prayer, I also pair my meditations with a book that helps guide my time. A few incredible ones I've went through this past year are:
-Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young: This little book has been the perfect inspiration, especially if you don't have much time in the morning! It's like Jesus is talking directly to me, I love it!
- The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst - This one was so encouraging about saying YES to the right things. It gave so much practical inspiration, and Lysa is both hilarious and honest.
- Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson - This is probably one of my favorite books i've ever read, and one i'll revisit every year. Sally is a woman I want to model my life after, I was so encouraged.

2. Exercise: I gotta be honest here, since i've been in grad school and worked a full time job, poor exercise has been put on the back burner. I just have NO time to get to the gym. But I've figured out a foolproof plan that has been "good enough" for this season of my busy life! Essentially, what I do is tune in to free yoga videos on youtube. My favorite yoga videos are the 5 and 10 minute ones from Tara Stiles. Tara is so great (i'm acting like I know her, haha), and because the videos are short, I can make it happen. Trust me, you do have an extra 5 minutes in your day to stretch!! On the days I have a little more time, I try to walk with a friend or family member so that i'm maximizing my time by hanging out AND getting exercise!!

3. Green Juice: So, since I lost my beloved coffee (wahhhh), i've turned to a new form of energy…green juice! In my Blentec Blender (which is essentially the same as a Vitamix), I mix a cup of water, a handful of spinach, and a dash of frozen fruit (usually low glycemic berries like blueberries and strawberries!). Can I tell you what a difference this has made in my life? For the first time in years i've actually been regular going to the bathroom (hopefully that's not TMI) ha! But spinach is SOOO amazing for your body, packed with nutrients and often labeled the most healthy food for your body! So it's no surprise that this has kind of revolutionized breakfast for me! And if you have a blender powerful enough to make a juice (as opposed to a smoothie) you'll find it's far easier (and faster) to drink!!

4. Breakfast: So, on days where I have a little more time in the morning, I LOVE to make breakfast. Ohhhhh, I can't even begin to share how food inspires me and gets me excited! When I was young, the days my mom made breakfast were always so enjoyable and are some of my fondest memories! Since going gluten and dairy free, here are a few of my favorite recipes for a delicious breakfast:
- Paleo Crepes
- Fiesta Egg Casserole
- French Toast (I just use Udi's gluten free bread instead of the sourdough bread the recipe calls for)
- Chicken Sausage Links from Trader Joes- When I first changed my diet years ago, my doctor told me these are a great source of protein in the morning! They are so flavorful, low in sodium, and chicken (as opposed to pork!). Yum yum!

-Music and candles: I love ambiance in the morning!! I want to fuel my body, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually too. Since i'm all about wanting to cultivate a peaceful place my body can transition into the day from, music and candles are my go-to! My favorite morning stations lately on Pandora have been Bethel Music and Rend Collective. So life-giving!!

What about YOU? What gets you going in the morning??? Give me some ideas!! Happy Monday! xoxo

Purpose Jewelry Give-Away

Wednesday, October 21

So, if you've been around this blog for a hot-minute, you'll know that I care deeply about the issue of human trafficking and modern day slavery. It breaks my heart that more than 27 million people today are enslaved, many of whom are in our own neighborhoods here in the USA. Kevin and I lived in Nepal working with girls being rescued out of sex-trafficking, so it is very near and dear to my heart.

Last year I wrote a post about 5 things you can do in the next hour to fight human trafficking. One of the ideas I gave is to support amazing organizations that are already doing the work to prevent trafficking and provide amazing aftercare for the victims.  One of my favorite organization is called iSanctuary.

iSanctuary works to rehabilitate girls and young women rescued from human trafficking. They provide the women with marketable training, and empower them with the skills they need to sustain themselves and pursue better futures filled with tangible options.

Their jewelry line, called Purpose Jewelry, is downright beautiful. For a few years now i've been eyeing this brass chevron necklace, and was so excited to finally own it! If it's any indication of how much I love it, I've literally worn it 5 days straight, haha! No shame!  Today I'm giving away the same necklace to one lucky reader!! Here's what you need to do to enter: 

1. Like iSanctuary on Pinterest and IG
2. Enter your email address into the give-away link here 
3. Leave a comment on this post

That's it!! May we use our purchasing power to support organizations that are doing beautiful and redemptive work around the world! Happy Wednesday friends!! 

Salzburg Travel Guide

Thursday, October 15

One of the best parts about blogging is the community that comes along with it!! A few years ago Gabriella and I "met" when she sent me the sweetest email ever! Gabriella lives in Salzburg (swoon, right?) and between Skype dates and countless emails, we are dear friends:)  She's a gem! I recently asked her to write up a travel guide from a local's perspective!! If you are headed to Austria anytime soon, you won't want to miss this!! xoxo

A while ago Katie asked me to write a Salzburg travel guide for her blog and I am really happy to share a few insider tips with all of you! Here’s what to drink/eat/do whilst you’re in the city: 

Chiemseegasse 5, 5020 Salzburg
This café is by far my favourite in the city, although it no longer holds the title of an insider tip. If you want to have breakfast here (highly recommended!) you definitely have to make a reservation on Saturdays and it won’t hurt to do so on a weekday, too. It’s closed on Sundays and Mondays, so keep that in mind when planning a trip!If you only have a few hours in the city, their coffee-to-go comes with a little biscotti – bonus! They also sell their own coffee beans, if you’re looking to take a little something different home with you.

Rudolfskai 38, 5020 Salzburg
If you want to feel like being in Salzburg and New York combined, this is it! The café itself is super small and only offers a few seats. Two large windows provide views of the river Salzach and their coffee might be the best in the city; you can get anything from an Aeropress to a regular cappuccino.

Café Bazar
Schwarzstraße 3, 5020 Salzburg
This café is situated right along the river and is a very traditional place to go and have coffee. Think Parisian-like patio lined with boxwood bushes, waiters in black and white serving you your cappuccino on silver trays.
Nonntaler Hauptstraße 108, 5020 Salzburg
This coffee house is actually a hybrid of a shop and a café. I love sitting amidst coffee table books and other interior trinkets – kind of like a really stylish living room. It’s not super central, but definitely worth the walk!

 Café Fingerlos
Franz-Josef-Straße 9, 5020 Salzburg
This place has a large selection of items on their breakfast menu and is a mix between an old style café and a more modern design. This area in Salzburg (near the Mirabell castle and gardens) is one of my favourites. It reminds me of Paris and is especially lovely in spring and summer. If you can, get a table outside and enjoy the people-watching whilst brunching all morning ;)

Franz-Josef-Kai 11, 5020 Salzburg
Before opening up this café, the owners ran an Austrian version of a Micheline-star restaurant. Clearly, the guys know what they’re doing and it shows in their elaborate breakfast menu. They offer three different kinds of breakfast-sets (mini, midi, and maxi) depending on how hungry you are, and you get to choose which items from the list you’d like.  Ranging from your regular omelette to fancy items like bloody mary and salmon canapés, you’re sure to find something that will suit your taste. It is expensive, though, so keep that in mind.

 BioBurger Meister
Linzer Gasse 54, 5020 Salzburg
Ask anyone who lives here for a lunch/dinner-recommendation and this place is sure to land on the must-try list. It’s a fairly small restaurant that serves burgers and fries (more like wedges). They use seasonal ingredients, their products are fresh and the price is ok, too. If you’re hungry and are in the Linzergasse already, definitely stop by here.

The Green Garden
Nonntaler Hauptstraße 16, 5020 Salzburg
If you’re looking for a vegetarian/vegan place – this is pretty much one of the only good ones in the city. Their menu is fun and fresh, and it’s near the Kaigasse – a street with a few shops worth looking into. (My personal favourite: The Living Store – lots of trinkets and interior decorations, albeit a bit on the pricey side)

Balkan Bosna Grill
Getreidegasse 33, 5020 Salzburg
This is a real institution as far as culinary places go. It’s a tiny (!!) little place that is so popular that people will stand in line for quite a while. There is only one item on the menu: the traditional “Bosna”. It’s a long crunchy roll, with two thin grilled sausages inside. The Austrian hotdog, if you will. The additions (which are basically the only options you get) are: sautéed onions with parsley, mustard, and a blend of spices. The first time my husband told me about it I couldn’t imagine liking it, let alone craving it after a long stroll through the city. Last thing: get the Nr. 2 – it’s the best!

Clearly not a lunch spot, but definitely a worthy dessert. For the best ice cream in town, head here (they have three ice cream parlours throughout the city!). With flavours like Mozart (hazelnut, nougat, and pistachio), salty peanut caramel or yoghurt blueberry, there’s an afternoon treat there for everyone. My favourite combinations are hazelnut/mango and Mozart/yoghurt blueberry, whereas my husband will always go for Salzburger Nockerl (based on the famous dessert) topped off with a fruity flavour.

 Pasta e Vino
Wolf-Dietrich-Straße 31, 5020 Salzburg
This authentic Italian place will make you feel like you’ve been transported out of the city and into a town somewhere in Italy. They only serve a few dishes and the waiter will be the one telling you what’s on the menu for that day. My husband and I went for dinner there and wanted to start with an antipasti platter. Well, we were so full after that we didn’t even get to the pasta (that we had gone there for – everyone raves about it!), and ended our night with tiramisu and espresso. Their prices aren’t cheap, but it’s well worth an evening out! (Reservation recommended!)

Antichi Sapori
Müllner Hauptstraße 8a, 5020 Salzburg
Again, an authentic Italian restaurant that serves authentic dishes and drinks. Their pizza is incredible and what makes this even more charming is the fact that it’s a father-daughter owned business!

La Stella
Getreidegasse 36, 5020 Salzburg
The best pizza I’ve ever had. Plus it’s in the middle of the city and not over-the-top expensive. That’s all you need to book yourself a flight, right?

Griesgasse 23, 5020 Salzburg
For authentic Austrian cuisine (with a large outdoor area ideal for balmy summer evenings) this is the place to go. Here’s where I tried my very first real Wiener Schnitzel (with veal) and although I’m not a massive fan of Austrian dishes myself, this one is a must if you do visit. There are a few restaurants throughout the city, though, so you’ll should be able to find yourself a real Schnitzel at any restaurant focused on Austrian cuisine.

Guerilla Burger
Nonntaler Hauptstrasse 9, 5020 Salzburg
This is seriously the best place in the city to get a burger. Yes, it is expensive, but worth every single Euro that you’ll spend. The quality is incredible and the only problem you’ll have will be deciding which one to go for.

Giselakai 3, 5020 Salzburg
The best view of the city (that doesn’t require going up a mountain!) can be found here. It’s actually a hotel, but its rooftop terrace is a widely popular after-work drink spot and afternoon coffee place. Take you camera, your sunglasses and be prepared to spend a bit more on an Aperol Spritz in exchange for a breathtakingly beautiful postcard-view of Salzburg.

Enoteca Setemilla
Bergstraße 9, 5020 Salzburg
This wine bar was a completely random find for us and it’s something I recommend to any friend in the city. It’s a wine bar that’s tucked in a side street of the Linzergasse and is (in my opinion) a real insider tip. You can get some fingerfood like Bruschetta or antipasti there, but I wouldn’t go if you’re hungry and/or conscious of spending your money.
Alchimiste Belge
Bergstraße 10, 5020 Salzburg
The only spot I haven’t been to myself that I will recommend is this one. If you’re looking for a bit of Belgium in Salzburg, go here. It’s a pub that offers a range of beers and has a nice (albeit smoke-filled) atmosphere. My husband goes here a few times a year with work colleagues and really enjoys the fact that he can try something different every time he goes.

Mönchsberg 32, 5020 Salzburg
I took my husband here for his birthday-breakfast (super special!), but if you’re looking to get amazing views, a chilled white wine and a trip to the museum of modern art all in one – this is your spot! You can also come here for lunch/dinner, but it is quite expensive. If you want to enjoy a little something I’d opt for a slice of strudel or cake, or make the trek up before treating yourself to a big breakfast! I’d actually suggest walking up the Mönchsberg mountain and taking the elevator down, because they often hand out free tickets when you have a drink or something to eat at the M32. There are two routes up, so you could also go up one way and walk down the other!

This mountain can be seen from pretty much anywhere in Salzburg and holds a special place for me. My sister got married up there and my husband and I love driving up the mountain on warm summer evenings to have a picnic whilst enjoying a spectacular sunset over the city. The view from up there is absolutely breathtaking – the mountain range from the very left stretching to your right, and the city illuminated by the setting sun. Apparently, there is a bus that goes up the mountain, in case you don’t have a rental, but I’ve never taken it myself. There’s also a highline running trail that goes around the whole mountain. The views are spectacular, no matter where you are. (It’s about 5k, but you could also just turn around whenever you feel like it).

Grünmarkt (the literal translation would be Green Market – very fitting ;))
This is my favourite farmer’s market in the city, although it’s not the biggest. It’s situated right in the centre of Salzburg on University square (Universitätsplatz) and lends itself to a casual Saturday morning stroll (my favourite!). You can get anything from fresh vegetables and fruit, to different kinds of breads, cured meats, and (the reason I go) herbs and flowers.

Mirabell Gardens
Yes, they are a very touristy place to go, but for good reason. The gardens are beautiful and there are benches everywhere to marvel at the beauty surrounding you. During the summer months (weekends only, I think), there are wine tasting stands right outside the gardens. You can pay for a glass, or buy a whole bottle and take it with you into the gardens. We’ve done it twice and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good glass of wine.

Christmas Market
Salzburg boasts one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the world. If you’re here around Christmas time, you’ll know why. A mug of mulled wine, a few roasted nuts, and – if you’re lucky – a layer of snow coating the city. 
These are just a few of the spots my husband and I have discovered in those short two years that we’ve been here. The city has so much charm and history, and I feel like you’d never run out of things to see and do, despite Salzburg not being very large in size. If you ever are in the area, please feel free to contact me – I’d love to go for a cup of coffee and show you a bit of what makes this city so special.

my dreams for the future

Friday, October 9

{photo of me taken by Valerie Denise Photos

I'm sitting on my bed, a vanilla candle is burning next to me filing the room with such a sweet smell, and the Fidler on the Roof sound track humming gently on my record player. I'm thinking about the future, and dreaming those dreams that make my heart sing. 

I love to dream. I love to think about all that could be, and see how God will breath life into those ready places. We are moving come January and my life is so uncertain. We are looking for a house, I am looking for a job, and we will be starting over with so much of our life. And yet i'm desperately excited about it. There is this itch to see how our generous God will provide, and while sometimes i'm so impatient, i'm learning to pray into the desires I have. I so believe God cares even about the smallest details. 

I wanted to share my dreams, so that in 6 months, or even a year, I can look back on this post and see how God so faithfully moved, even when it looks so different than what I expected. 

My dream is to find a adorable house that we can fill with warmth and love. It doesn't need to be huge, it just need to have good bones that we can work with:) {Please God, let it have a fireplace, a porch, and TONS of natural lighting!! Oh, and wood beams would be fun too! :)} Hospitality might be one of my greatest strengths, and I cannot wait to host dress-up parties, coffee dates, and have my family over for dinner (I can't believe I will be so close to my family again!! cue the confetti!!). I've also been praying a lot that God would put us exactly in the neighborhood He has for us. I want to get to know my neighbors, and love them in tangible ways. Our last neighborhood we lived in we had a total open door policy and neighbors came by almost every day, it was amazing!! I want our house to be a beacon of light and warmth and radiate God's love in a powerful way:) 

I'm also dreaming about the community we will be a part of. People make my heart sing. To be known and loved and cherished, and to know and love and cherish others is a gift. My prayer is that God would usher us into the right circle of loving individuals. That we would meet couples we can walk through life with, in the ups and downs! That I would connect and grow deeper with a group of special women. 

I'm dreaming of babies. For the last 4 years of marriage, it's never felt like the right time to have a baby. But boy oh boy does it feel right now (I sound so cheesy, I know, ha!).  I know no one is 100% ready for parenthood, but i'm yearning to hold a sweet precious little one and pray that God provides in his perfect timing:) Please pray for us in this next season! 

I also have a dream to write a book. I can't get into all the details regarding my idea yet, but it's been many years of praying into this dream. If you've followed my blog long enough, you might have an inkling of what it might contain, but i'll leave you in suspense:) If you my dear reader happen to be in the publishing world, I would love to connect with you to pick your brain about some details. Feel free to email me at xoxo 

Dreaming of how God might use Kevin and I in our city. We have a heart for the marginalized, the broken, and truly anyone needing love. My prayer is that our hearts would be open to wherever God is calling us to give of our time and love. This also includes my job as a therapist. I pray for the right counseling center to work at, and all the clients I may in contact with in the coming season:) 

I dream of long walks in the park with friends, my favorite tea latte from my favorite coffee shop in town, dates with my parents, diner parties with my brother and his girlfriend, farmers market Saturdays (OMG, they have the best farmers market!), and decorating my home for the holidays! It will be here before I know it, and there is so much to look forward to!! 

So grateful and excited that I get to watch our Lord work in amazing ways! He is so so good and tender, and His plan is right. Praying I will trust him and be patient as I watch it unfold:) Happy Friday dears!! xoxo 

Castles in Sweden // Lacko Slot

Monday, October 5

Kevin and I went to Sweden with literally no plans. My Swedish cousins pretty much planned our whole trip and played tour guides, and it was perfect. My one request was that we could tour a castle! I'm such a nerd and love castles SO much, and this one did not disappoint! Lacko Slot is located on lake Vanern, and is Scandanavian through and through (I kept pretending I was Anna or Elsa from Frozen, haha)

The castle was originally built in 1298, and expanded almost every century! The setting for the castle was absolutely stunning…sitting right on the shore of the lake, surrounded by gorgeous gardens and grass. We packed a picnic and ate before moving into the castle to take a tour!

After the tour we headed over to a little town nearby for Fika!! Fika is a coffee/treat break that Swedes are obsessed with- i've already told Kev we need to adopt the tradition, hehe! The boys fished and us girls laid around on the grass…it was lovely!

If you are ever in central Sweden, Lacko Slot is a perfect day trip!!