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Wednesday, December 30

We are back from our European Christmas, and it was lovely. Excited to share pictures soon. I'm especially exited to show you our cable car ride and hike at the Matterhorn, a total bucket list item for me!! {epp!!}

In the meantime, I still have some calendar's left that I would LOVE to mail out to you.

Each calendar is filled with beautiful pictures from Kevin and my trip to Santorini, Greece! It also includes bright and cheery watercolor and fun travel quotes. I am selling the calendar's for $25 (plus shipping), and it would make a gorgeous addition to your home:)

Because I love you guys, i'm offering 2 months free ad space to anyone who purchases a calendar from today onward! {A 2 month ad on my blog is usually $30, so you are saving money and getting a gorgeous calendar!!}

 Just head on over to my etsy shop to pick up a calendar or two!!

And stay tuned to see pics of our trip to Switzerland, France and Germany!!


A Christmas I Will Never Forget {and how YOU can be used this Christmas season}

Tuesday, December 15

One Christmas, about 10 years ago when I was in college, my college roommates and I were snuggled up together on the couch in our apartment, celebrating Christmas. We shared stories of family traditions, and all the yummy foods our mom's and grandma's baked through the years. And then two of my roommates shared that as children, their family had been the recipient of Christmas gifts and food from local churches and charity organizations. It was so beautiful to hear them share how much it meant to receive these items. This Christmas, I hope you'll read this touching story below from my dear friend Noemma, and be encouraged to find a way to spread the Christmas love and cheer this holiday season. You never know how much it will mean to those who receive your sweet gift.

Here's is Noemma's story...

It was a cold autumn night in1989 and I was four years old. My four siblings and I were all at home watching television while my parents were at a church leaders’ meeting. On nights like this, the oldest siblings usually made dinner for the younger ones. Because we didn’t have much in the cupboards or refrigerator, my older brothers sometimes gave us cereal, flour tortillas with butter on top, or toast with a dash of cinnamon. I didn’t mind because those were my favorite snacks. The phone rang and my teenage- older brother picked up the receiver. The call was from a nice lady representing City Team Ministries. After hearing that my parents weren’t home, she had, what she thought, was an easy question for my brother: “What would you like for Christmas?” My brother, unaccustomed to such an open-ended, generous question was uncomfortable at the thought, “I don’t know...maybe some cleaning rags for the house?” She laughed and after more prompting, got more answers: “Spices. Socks. Bikes?”

Weeks later on a cold morning, a large shipping truck stopped at our apartment neighborhood. The sweet lady from City Team emerged from the truck in a red blazer and matching red lipstick. She told my parents that our family had been adopted for Christmas and she was there with other City Team staff to drop everything off. Out came a large, wonderfully-smelling pine tree and bag after bag filled with multiple wrapped gifts for each member of my family. Christmas decor, boxes of fresh food that included meats, cake and brownie mixes, and spices all filled our home as well. There were socks, gameboards— like “Hungry Hungry Hippos,” dresses and dolls for my sisters and me, gift cards for my parents, and yes, even mountain bikes for my brothers. Bags and bags filled our living room floor— we could barely walk through the maze of it all. It was a happy day in our home. 

You see— my parents loved Jesus and raised us to love Jesus too... and they were poor. That was the year my dad had hurt his back in his construction job. At that time, there were five children in our family...all under the age of thirteen. My mom was a housewife and looked over the household, so there was very little income. We struggled a lot as a family over the years, but I am happy to say that this Christmas day is one of my earliest childhood memories and one that I recall with warmth, happiness, but most of all, wonder. The trimmed tree wasn’t just magical because it was beautiful. The greater wonder lay in the meaning of it all. It was a physical demonstration of what my parents would teach my siblings and me about God— that He is good, that He sees, that He cares, and that He provides in tangible ways. It helped to form my faith at a very tender age. And as I grew over the years, whenever I experienced scarcity or suffering, God reminded me of beautiful experiences like this one where He made His presence known in my life and that He is a good Father. It led me to learn that better than any physical gift I could ever receive is the treasure of knowing Him through saving grace. !

I was a little girl on one of those Christmas gift-giving trees. If you have ever given a gift of any sort of Christmas drive, thank you! Please know that it makes an impact to that boy or girl. You may never meet him/her, or get a thank you card from the family, but it is still incredibly significant and can make an eternal impact as it did for me!

If you would like to make a child/family's holiday a little more magical, please consider donating to the following organizations: 
- City Team Ministries
- Family Giving Tree
- Sacred Heart Community Service
- Toys for Tots
- Your local Salvation Army
- Your local non-profit organizaitons serving children/youth

Graduating…how did I even get here?

Friday, December 11

I'm sitting in my bed right now, realizing that in 2 days, I will walk across a stage with a new degree in my hand. I feel a little nervous, and a lot excited, but mostly really thankful that God opened these doors to walk through.

Two and a half years ago, Kevin and I were living in Nepal. Our work there was with an aftercare home that housed young girls who had been rescued out of sex-trafficking and forced prostitution. Every day my heart heart well up with such intense emotion….Love for these precious ones, outrage at the evils they had endured under the hands of others, compassion for their journey, and hope for their future. I became good friends with their counselors who came weekly to work with them, and was truly inspired by the good work and healing being done within the context of therapy.

And then God started whispering to me. Tenderly, kindly, but nonetheless strongly. He was asking me to go back to school and get my masters in counseling. It took me by surprise, but at the same time it didn't. You see, I had been trying for years to go back to school and get a masters. I love school. I've always loved school. I literally had started 2 masters programs prior to this, and for some reason or another it didn't work out. God closed those doors. And so here I was, thousands of miles away from home, and God was revealing to me a calling that was heaven sent.

It felt sacred, holy. It felt right.

I started looking online. I reached out to dozens of masters programs in counseling. And then God just led me to where I was supposed to be. And you guys... God literally opened EVERY door for me. I cannot begin to describe the Lord's incredible faithfulness to me in this process, affirming my step at every turn. I was handpicked to be a graduate assistant (which allowed a tuition break for me), met the most incredible faculty/staff and friends who supported my journey, and got to take some amazing classes that are literally offered at very few schools.

And now, here I am.
A little shocked that it's over, and i've turned in my last assignment.
A little nervous about what my future holds, and what job i'll get next.
But ever grateful and so so excited for what the future holds.

I so believe that if God has called me to it, He will bring me through it. He is kind and so very loving. And good. Very very good.

What an honor it is for me to be a therapist, and work in the business of brokenness and healing. It has been a most beautiful journey.

I'm ready to don that cap and gown and get this show on the road:) Bring it on!! Thanks for supporting me in this journey friends, you truly are the best!! xoxo 

Hope Engaged 2016 Travel Calendar

Monday, December 7

After a few months of hard work, our 2016 Travel Calendar is now here and for sale! Hooray!!

The calendar features 12 beautiful pictures from my trip to Santorini, Greece.
Each page highlights a photo, watercolor (done by sweet Emmy Clausen) and an inspiring travel quote!

The calendar is 12x12, with enough space to write all your important dates into it!
The cover paper is a gorgeous heavy linen, and the inside paper is a pretty matte.

The calendars are for sale on my Etsy site {here} for $25.
The calendar would be a perfect gift for the travel lover in your life! I hope you love it as much as I do:)

Soy-Candle Give-Away

Saturday, December 5

Ya'll, get excited because i'm giving away an incredible soy candle today from Glassed Over.

Here is what makes Glassed Over so unique and awesome:
- For starters, they use a clean soy wax
- All their candles sit in recycled wine bottles (high five for being environmentally conscious!)
- They handmade all their candles (Yeah for small businesses!)
- You get to pick your favorite scent (They smell delightful! I picked Vanilla and French Lavender)
- And, they make them all in my native California (no out-sourcing here!)
-The burn forever (these candles are heavy duty!)
- They come with a cute little pack of matches
- As a total bonus, if you have a wine bottle that's special to you (maybe from your wedding or anniversary) you can send it to them to make a candle out of!! And you can keep sending it back to be refilled when it runs out!

Glassed Over also offers a candle subscription service for a total of 8 candles a year made from recycled wine bottles (2 candles sent every 3 months). Could be a great gift for the candle lover in your life! The company teams up with 8 different wineries each year to give 8 unique candles made from the empty bottles thrown out by wineries across California. Each candle will have the actual wine label of the winery still intact.

Today today i'm giving away one candle of your choice! You get to pick the label and fragrance (hooray!).

To Enter:
1) Head on over to Glassed Over's website here and pick out what candle and fragrance you'd like, writing it in a comment below on this blog post.
2) Like Glassed Over on FB and IG

That's it! The contest will close next Saturday December 12th! Happy Saturday friends:)

A little yoga, a little relaxation

Friday, December 4

When I was first diagnosed with Lupus 6 years ago (an autoimmune disease), I was struggling with massive joint pain. I literally had to quit running altogether, and at times could barely walk. It was truly a difficult season in my life…lots and lots of tears. 

However, one of the beautiful aspects of this time was that I started practicing yoga more regularly, since it was an extremely low impact exercise. Not only was the physical exercise excellent for my health, but the mindfulness aspects of yoga was also healing for me as well. At that time I was so new to the whole yoga experience {and to best honest I'm still a bit of a novice, as I don't practice as nearly as I wish}. However, I was so grateful for the people who introduced me to some really great products! 

Recently I was introduced to a company called Aurorae. Aurorae offers yoga accessories, fitness apparel and accessories, aromatherapy candles and active lifestyle products. Their yoga mats are actually the top-rated yoga mats on, and I could totally feel the difference. Their candles are soy based (read: non-toxic!) and smell absolutely delicious, and add a very peaceful ambiance to the experience! They'd make a great stocking stuffer for the yoga lover in your life:) They also sent me a micro-fiber beach swim towel that is lightweight, compact, and super absorbent. It's great for travel because it dries so easily! Be sure to check out Aurorae for all your yoga needs:) 

Happy Friday dear friends! I'm rolling into my LAST week of grad school, and will graduate next Saturday December 12th! I couldn't be more excited!! This weekend will be filled with lots of packing for Switzerland, last minute school assignments, and seeing many dear friends. Love you ladies! xoxo

100% Pure Make-Up Give-Away

Wednesday, December 2

So this past April, I discovered my absolute favorite skin care and cosmetic brand called 100% Pure. I had been searching for YEARS for all natural make-up that worked and didn't melt off my skin or make me look cakey. I casually bought a few things from 100% Pure, expecting them to be like every other natural make-up brand that was just a pathetic excuse for make-up. Not the case AT ALL. I was actually shocked at how amazing their make-up was, and since April have tried so many of their products that i'm a total believer that make-up can be both toxin free AND flawless! 

I've always gone pretty natural in the eye shadow department, and 100% Pure has got me covered with their different options. They have 3 new palettes they've added to their line up, the Sex-Kitten, the Punk Princess, and the Mermaid. Each palette includes shades that are toxin free (no parabens, etc) and is colored with fruit pigments and other essential oils that nourish your skin! 

Today i'm giving away both the Punk Princess and the Mermaid Palette to 2 lucky ladies!! 

To enter: 
1. Like 100% Pure's FB & follow on IG {if you don't have FB or IG, no worries, enter anyway!} 
2. Leave a comment on this post with which palette you'd like to win

That's it!! The give-away closes this Sunday night, 12/6

And, as an added bonus, if you would like receive $30 off your next 100% Purchase you can use my affiliate link here to get it (You have ton spend $60 or more to get the $30 off, but still a great deal!!).  Even better, 100% Pure is having a huge sale now with tons of items on sale!  Check it out and get $30 off!! 

Happy Wednesday!
PS- Friends, i've been creating a magical 2016 calendar of all my Santorini pictures! It will be available for purchase starting Monday, so tune in to see it and swipe one while there are still some left!! xoxo 
{Mermaid Palette: above // Punk Princess Palette: below}