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Frigid Weather and Fantastic Weekends

December 19, 2017

It’s cold. At least here in Wisconsin it’s cold. My weather app tells me it’s nice and warm in Southern California. Maybe a little too warm what with all the fires I keep reading about. =( But over here in Watertown we’ve been getting tiny little snowflakes.

I started writing this about a week or so ago. And the above sentence is far as I made it. I’ve been on a roll lately with blogging, obviously. ūüėČ

The weather isn’t so frigid right now…but the weekends are still fantastic. And this weekend will be especially fantastic as I will be heading home on Friday! [Home as in California home.] I couldn’t be more excited to see my family and I’m a little excited about warm weather as well.

Last weekend I did an escape room for the first time ever and that was all that I had expected it to be. It was fabulous.

We answered all the questions correctly, we escaped in time, AND we made it onto the leaderboard for our escape time. This team rocked it.


Then on Saturday a friend and I went and froze walking around the holiday lights display at the Rotary Botanical Gardens down in Janesville.

Two weekends ago I went on a very spur-of-the-moment trip down to St. Louis and managed to also see Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I while down there. We somehow snagged $14 orchestra level seats on the way down, and had a great time.

A few Christmas events here and there…

A few weekends have held ice skating and late night adventures around Milwaukee. A few weekends have had home basketball games and just plain catching up on life and sleep. All in all, winter hasn’t been too bad so far. I AM counting the days till summer, however, when I can be out exploring again. It’s been so much fun being home in the states!







Just Another Ramble

November 3, 2017

Guys…it’s cold here. It’s been 4 years since I lived in a place that actually gets winter and I’m not sure this California girl is ready for such cold weather.

A few weekends ago, Michael, Olga and I went out and enjoyed what was probably the last nice weekend of the year. We went on a full day adventure exploring southwest Wisconsin and had a great time. We saw beautiful things, random things and hilariously funny things. I’m so glad I have such great adventuring buddies out here.

Can’t tell from this picture, but that bird in the upper left is a bald eagle.

Sun rays over the Mississippi River

Farms are everywhere out here.

One of our more interesting finds: the Grotto of the Holy Ghost

After MANY stops, we finally made it to the Mississippi River.

Now that the weather is cold, however, I feel my adventuring days are going to be severely limited. The cold just makes me want to go home or stay home, and either bundle up and do nothing or else just sleep. And I hate that. I don’t want to sleep away my life! I’m realizing that I could never live in Greenland or someplace that has long, dark winter months. It’s going to be challenging to stay active out here.

But, I do have a few trips coming up to look forward to. Next week I will¬†finally¬†be picking up some new US states! I can’t even remember the last time I visited new states. Honestly. I’ll be driving for the Cross Country teams here at MBU next week, as well as doing some photography, so I’ll get to visit Missouri and Mississippi with them.

Then for some new, big news, one of the girls here and I will be (Lord wiling) heading to South Korea next Feb with an Olympics Outreach team! I’m beyond excited about that. Especially since I was so close to the last winter Olympics in Sochi and didn’t make it down there, boo. Keep us in your prayers as we raise funds and prepare for that!

My last trip this year and into next year will be heading home to California for Christmas on Dec 22. I am ecstatic about that. I cannot wait to see my family and especially those nieces and nephews. It’s going to be awfully hard to leave the sunshine, warmth, and family of California to head back to cold, dreary Wisconsin. I’m already dreading it and I haven’t left yet. =(

So….there’s an update for you. Happy weekend, friends!

A leaf on my car last Sunday =)

I’m Still Here

October 15, 2017

Lake Michigan this past weekend.

The kitchen is clean (I’ve come to realize just how much I need a kitchen to be clean. Thanks, Mom, for passing on that gene ;)), the laundry is washing itself, errands are all run, today’s to-do list has been accomplished, unpacking is all finished, and pictures have been loaded onto the computer. So I guess I can’t really procrastinate in blogging any longer.

One of many tree-covered streets in Door County.

I just got back from a fabulous weekend getaway and it was so refreshing and invigorating. I’ve been getting out and seeing as much of the local area as I can each weekend, but this was the first overnight getaway I’ve had since I’ve been here. And it was fabulous. I don’t think I realized just how much I have missed shooting with my camera. I still took way more phone pictures, but it felt good to pull out the Canon and get some better shots. I still don’t have any editing software on the laptop, and my memory is almost full (both issues that will get rectified before Iceland. Which I probably haven’t mentioned. I got tickets to Iceland for next spring. So I’m pretty pumped about that. Can.Not.Wait.) so I don’t have a lot of good shots to post. But I do have some. =)

My new favorite Wisconsin road. =)

It’s getting colder here. Colder as in it now feels like a California winter and I’m so ready to start wearing my long wool coat but I’m pretty sure everyone would laugh at me so I’m trying to hold out as long as I can. I’ve done 4 cold winters before, so I know I can do this. But I also know that 6 months of winter is just way too long. Why can’t fall be 6 months and winter be like 2? (Oh wait, it can. If you live in CA. Ha.)

Anyway, life is good. I’m still enjoying being back in America – almost 11 months later. Who knows what the future holds but I know who holds the future and I’m not worried in the least. God provides the best adventures and I’m so thankful to know that He is in control. Everyone keeps asking if I’m staying in the states or going back overseas in the future and I honestly have no clue. I’d be happy either way, as long as God is leading and providing. But for now, I’m going to enjoy every moment of life here in Wisconsin.

Guys, I moved!

August 21, 2017

Every once in a while I do something like move to a new location. About….8 times in the last 10 years to be exact. And now that I find myself stateside for the time being, one of the new popular questions I get asked semi-frequently is, “soooooo… long do you plan to be in Wisconsin for?” This is asked after all the pleasantries are past, and is said in a low, suspicious tone. I’m not even kidding. It makes me laugh every single time because inevitably I know it’s going to be asked.

I get it, I do seem to move a lot. Keeps life interesting, what can I say?

But really though, the answer is that I’ll be here as long as God wants me to be. He’ll move me along if and when He wants me to move, and I know the timing will be perfect. But for now, I’m totally content to put down roots and settle into American life again for a while. It’s been a MUCH easier adjustment than I thought it might be. I don’t feel restless. I feel content. And that makes me happy.

I find myself asking the question “why didn’t I do this (head back to WI) sooner?” from time to time. But I know the answer. God knows what He’s doing, and those years of amazing adventures were gems I’ll keep tucked away in my heart for forever. I feel beyond spoiled by God and so incredibly thankful for every single place He’s let me live and travel. He truly does give the best gifts and when you give Him a little bit of faith, He turns it around into something far more amazing than you could ever imagine.

I have no idea what the future holds. I have no idea how long He’ll have me stay in Wisconsin. But I do know this: I’m going to do my best to make the most of it while I’m here.

Wisconsin is quite a bit greener than CA!


A Life Update: Leaving California for Wisconsin

July 1, 2017

Tonight is my last full night here in California. Or, at least the last night where I get a full night’s sleep, since I will leave very early Monday morning to head to the airport.

It’s hard to believe it’s finally time to move. It doesn’t matter how many times I do this, it still feels weird when it’s actually time to leave California again. My bags are packed, and yet it doesn’t feel real. I¬†know¬†I will absolutely have a blast in Wisconsin, and that I will be so glad I went once I get there. And yet it’s still hard to actually say goodbye and leave. For this goodbye I’m just trying to not think about it. I’ll be staying in the states for the first time in 5 years, so it’s not such a drastic move anyway. On the one hand it’s getting harder each year to leave since my family keeps multiplying and adding more cute little members that are hard to say goodbye to. But on the other hand it also gets easier as I have more and more years and experiences to look back on and realize that God was providing and leading the whole way. It doesn’t¬†feel¬†easy to leave, but I¬†know¬†from experience that once I’m on the plane I will be ready for new adventures.

I just realized tonight that I’ll be in the states for the 4th of July for the first time since 2012. I’ve seen¬†fireworks¬† many times since then, but not to celebrate America’s Independence Day. ¬†I’ve seen fireworks in Russia for Victory Day, in Australia for¬†Christmas. And in Fiji for Diwali (by far the most impressive of fireworks shows if we are measuring impressiveness by length of performance and number of displays.) But I haven’t seen fireworks to celebrate our Independence Day in 5 years. I’m so looking forward to celebrating the 4th of July IN America this year!

Fireworks in Brisbane for Christmas

It’s hard to believe I’ve been home now for 7 months. I only planned to be here for 3-4 months, but God worked things out differently and while it would have been nice to have a job during these months, I’m glad I was able to spend all this time with family and to get to know my nieces and nephews a bit better. During the past 7 months I also was able to travel overseas 3 times, getting to Central America for the first time, getting back to the UK for the first time since I left Russia, and picking up my 50th country while cruising the Caribbean. At times this year has felt uneventful since I’ve been in the states and life has been fairly “normal” compared to what life overseas often feels like. But when I look back over the months, I realize a lot has happened. And while this year looks different than I thought it would initially, it’s been a good year so far and I’m thankful for it.

It’s hard to put into words exactly how it feels to be putting down American roots again (however temporary they may be.) And it’s also hard to articulate how conflicted I feel about living in America versus living overseas. Family and comforts of home will always pull at you no matter where you go. And adventure and wanderlust will also pull at the same time. I feel excited to be staying for a while, and I also feel confused. I want to be here. And I want to be¬†there.¬†¬†I’m so thankful that no matter where I go on this little planet, someday I will be truly¬†home.¬†Heaven sounds sweeter and sweeter with each passing day. I can’t wait until we are all there, forever, with our hearts truly contented with where we are.

Wisconsin, California, or wherever else I may go, this is only temporary. One day we will truly be home!

What is Your Life’s Message?

May 15, 2017

Have you ever thought about what you want your life’s message to be? What statements you want to make with your life?

Somewhere along the way, many years ago, I thought about the things I wanted my life to convey. Not that I would always do it perfectly, because obviously I don’t. I’m naturally very shy, especially around people I don’t know, so I often don’t talk a lot (my family would disagree) unless I’m comfortable with the situation. (You’ll never see me speaking up in a crowd or doing public speaking unless I’m forced to do it, or it’s so sudden that I don’t have the chance to think about being nervous. I often have lots I’d love to share, especially in church, but nerves keep me from ever doing so – not something I’m proud of, but it’s just the way it is.) But, even if you don’t publicly go around stating your convictions and beliefs, you can live them.

Here are the messages that I’ve striven to live:

1. You can be a Christian and live a godly life and have fun.

This one is so important to me. I don’t understand how Christians can think that the world offers more fun. Maybe I’ve just seen the end result too much from growing up around the ministry. Maybe it’s the counseling degree. Maybe it’s just the fact that my brain likes to follow things out to their logical conclusion to see where they will lead, and looking down the road it’s easy to see where sin leads. Or maybe it’s just believing what the Bible says. But regardless, I believe 100% that living God’s way is the best way, and it’s definitely not boring. Because of these beliefs, I’ve always felt strongly about living a fun life and enjoying all the great things that God has given for our enjoyment. I’ll take climbing an active volcano that God created over getting drunk in a bar, any day!

2. You can be single and have a fulfilling life.

It bothers me when girls are unhappy being single and are desperate to get married. Marriage is not some sort of cure for unhappiness. If you aren’t able to find your happiness in Christ and who you are in Him, then marriage is not going to help you.

Knowing Christ, serving Him, and glorifying Him with our lives should be our goal. Not just getting married. Maybe it’s just because I’ve never been one of those “I have to get married and let me Pinterest every wedding idea out there” kind of girls so it’s easy for me to feel this way, but it’s quite possible and even most likely easier to live a very full and fulfilling life as a single person. You are free to serve the Lord wherever He leads! (Married people are, too, but often they are too distracted with material things and family to be open to leaving their comfort to serve the Lord.) You can travel and explore the world and have adventures and meet people all around the globe, things that often married people will never do, certainly not to the same extent anyway.

I want people to see my life and be encouraged that they don’t have to settle for any old guy that comes along, or even ever settle, to be happy. They don’t have to be miserable while single and they don’t have to be desperate to be married. There are other good options! (It is ALWAYS better to be single and happy than married and miserable; don’t settle!)

3. You can (and should) dress modestly and not look frumpy.

I’ve always felt strongly about dressing modestly while not looking dumpy or frumpy. You can be stylish without showing off your body. I could get on a soapbox about this but I won’t. Just dress modestly. You can do it if you really want to. No excuses.

4. Living by faith is exciting and God CAN provide all your needs.

God created the entire world. That alone should be enough to give you confidence in Him. He can do anything. But sometimes He wants to grow our faith. I promise you, living by faith can sometimes be scary but it’s so exciting! He will never let you down.

Those are the four ideas I’ve tried to live. I’m no expert model but I do try to live by those four thoughts. And I’m always encouraged when girls tell me I’ve inspired them to do missions or to travel or to be content being single! Or when ladies thank me for dressing modestly and being a good example for their daughters. We CAN live differently from the world and still enjoy life! Living life as a Christian is so fulfilling and rewarding!

What inspires your life and what codes of conduct do you live by?

Panama City

May 6, 2017

Last week I took a very last minute, spur-of-the-moment trip down to Panama for a few days. I had some Alaska Airlines miles I wanted to use so that I could cancel the credit card associated with them (because of it’s $75 annual fee). And once you cancel the card you lose the miles, so I needed to travel soon.

Bridge of the America, spanning the entrance to the Panama Canal and linking the north and south American land masses.

Bridge of the America, spanning the entrance to the Panama Canal and linking the north and south American land masses.

Due to my crazy and unpredictable schedule over these last few weeks, I hadn’t been able to book any trips to use these miles. But when it appeared that I would suddenly have a week free, I jumped at the chance to squeeze in a trip. A quick Alaska Airlines search revealed that I could actually still get last minute international flights for the 30,000 miles that I had! You can’t go far internationally round trip for 30,000, but you can get Caribbean, Central America, and (northern) South America flights for that amount. And there were still flights for the next day! My first choice was Panama City, with flights also open for Quito, Ecuador and Bogota, Colombia. Since I want to wait until I have the funds and time to also see the Galapagos when in Ecuador, that option was out. And I’m not brave enough to do Colombia on my own as a white, female, non-Spanish speaker, so that left Panama City, which was my first choice anyway. (The upside to the other two options would be that I’d finally get my 6th continent. But that will have to wait.) So I looked through the flight options, and while not ideal, they were doable. Thanks to my amazing dad agreeing to take me to the airport at 4 am, I quickly booked a 7 am flight for the next morning (by far my most spontaneous trip to date). Then I did some quick research, booked a hostel, called our missionaries for some advice (to put my mom at ease – she doesn’t like my solo travel), and started packing.

View of Panama City from Ancon Hill

View of Panama City from Ancon Hill

For trips of a week or less, I have started doing my best to take only carry-on luggage and I’m so thankful that I did on this trip! Thanks to long delays in Dallas, all of us with connections missed our flights when we landed in Miami. It was annoying to miss one of my days in Panama, and to have to pay for a hotel, but at least I had all my stuff with me. I was rebooked on a 10:45 am flight for the next day and thankfully that one got off with no problems.

Panama City's awesome Revolution Tower

Panama City’s awesome Revolution Tower

My short trip, made even shorter by the missed connection, ended up with me being in Panama City for only 3 full days and 2 half days. I certainly would have loved more time down there, and debated changing my flight after I got down there, but I’m thankful for the time I did have, at least. And now I know for next time how to better do Panama City!

This bird reminds me of a platypus

This bird reminds me of a platypus

Sunset and city views from the Causeway

Sunset and city views from the Causeway

Flower from a Cannonball tree. They have a very strong, unique fragrance.

Flower from a Cannonball tree. They have a very strong, unique fragrance.

Panama City's Old Town, Casco Viejo, is so colorful and fun.

Panama City’s Old Town, Casco Viejo, is so colorful and fun.

The Harpy eagle is the largest in the Americas and one of the largest in the world. And they can turn their heads completely around, just like an owl.

The Harpy eagle is the largest in the Americas and one of the largest in the world. And they can turn their heads completely around, just like an owl.

View of the financial district from the Causeway across the Panama Bay

View of the financial district from the Causeway across the Panama Bay

Dusk on the Causeway

Dusk on the Causeway

I love red-headed woodpeckers =)

I love red-headed woodpeckers =)

There are so many fun finds in Casco Viejo.

There are so many fun finds in Casco Viejo.

I'm not sitting in an infinity pool for this one, but it looks like it. =)

I’m not sitting in an infinity pool for this one, but it looks like it. =)

Two ships crossing the Panama Canal. The Canal is way cooler than I thought it would be.

Two ships crossing the Panama Canal. The Canal is way cooler than I thought it would be.

Crossing the Canal

Crossing the Canal

Mangoes enough for everyone!

Mangoes enough for everyone!

I just love this sign's depiction of Panamanians =)

I just love this sign’s depiction of Panamanians =)

Colorful doors are so much fun!

Colorful doors are so much fun!

Casco Viejo is truly beautiful

Casco Viejo is truly beautiful

Playing tourist. =) (Actually I saw lots of locals taking pictures here as well).

Playing tourist. =) (Actually I saw lots of locals taking pictures here as well).

I highly recommend a visit to Panama. The Canal and museum/visitors’ center alone definitely make it worth a visit. Plus there is a lot of unique flora and fauna to be found in Panama.

Green and Black Poison Dart frog. I saw dozens of these up there. They are so pretty! But my lens kept fogging up because of the humidity so it was hard to get pictures of them.

Green and Black Poison Dart frog. I saw dozens of these up there. They are so pretty! But my lens kept fogging up because of the humidity so it was hard to get pictures of them.