JOURNALING IN JULY.

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One of my favorite aspects about journaling is that afterwards, you are left with a collection of all your old thoughts, agendas, and insights. Our ability to retain information and memories is slimmer than we’d like to believe, and a record of old words serve as a time portal back into the yesterday’s. Past journals offer perspective: a better understanding of where you are going and an attitude of thankfulness for how you have gotten there.

I looked back at all my journal entires of July on the train one day, and I was shocked of how eventful the month was without even realizing it. As I knew it, another month had just came and went. Weekends seemed too quick and workdays were too long, but as I read through my prayers and recollections, I was reminded of both little and big things that had taken place. I was filled with thankfulness and inspiration. It was cool. (:

Here is a peek at some of my journal entries: (click to enlarge)

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If you don’t journal already, I encourage you try it for the month of August! If you have ever asked yourself if God’s hand is  present in your life, this might help you. Journaling forces you to slow down, and in those moments of reflections is when God’s presence is evident.  You see the promises the Lord has declared over you, and how they are personally manifesting in your life! God is always, always working, slow down or you might miss it.

Journal about anything and everything. (: Talk about the highlights of your days and your weeks, and even vent about the worries that consume your heart. Share your blessings and express your wishes. God hears all of it. I believe that putting language to your emotions has the ability to pull them from the depths and hidden corners of your heart, onto the surface where it’s accessible to be touched, processed, and communicated. And when you are able to communicate it with yourself, you are more able to communicate them with God.

Good luck! (:
I’d love to hear your journaling adventures, please share below.

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Pay it forward.

Pay it forward.

Lately, God has been revealing that there is greater joy in loving others than there is in loving myself. I realize how much time and energy I spend on protecting myself — my image, emotions, reputation, pride, comfort level, etc. And the more time I spend on looking at myself, the less I can see others around me. But if I have faith and believe that my God is a God who protects and provides for me, then there is no need to be worrying about myself at all. Now suddenly I have so much more time to see others, help others, love others…

God said HE IS LOVE. And so if love is the language he understands and embodies, the more I love, the more I understand and know that God, too. Thank you, God, for loving me first, so that I can accept, feel, share, and learn more about love a little bit more each day.

it’s not about starbucks

I have a thing for Starbucks. (Or have you not noticed?) And as an advertising major, I always stayed comfortable with the reason for that affinity being its excellent advertising. It must be. 

And I still do think it kind of totally is. I mean it did completely change coffee culture in America. To not only get people to like the drink in the cup, but be proud for holding that cup in their hand, and creating this habit of staying in the store. It became not only a coffee shop, but a living room, an office space, a hang out. And that’s what all brands around the world spend millions and millions of dollars each year trying to achieve. To mean something and be able to express it in words and images and share this idea to the people. And then the hardest part? Be so real that they believe it. 

And hey, Starbucks did it. It  means something more than caffeine and it has become so interlaced with my own life that I’ll drop +$4 on one cup and post a pic on Instagram for the 90th time.

For me, Starbucks is the place where Jesus and I meet and have our best conversations. Lessons learned, healing found, truths exposed. Some small, some big. Both always mattered.

And today, I’m pretending I’m at Starbucks. I’m sitting at my kitchen table — something I rarely do because my roommate and I are barbarians who like to eat our meals on the couch with feet up and tv on.

But right now I’m sitting here. Headphones plugged in, a cup of coffee in hand, and the Word opened in front of me.

Why? Like I said. This post is not about Starbucks. Not at its core anyway.

It’s about Jesus. And how important it is to be taking care of that relationship with him.

In Italy, it’s been hard to find that intimacy with Jesus. I stayed in bathrooms, laid in bed, and I told myself it didn’t matter the location of my quiet time. Which is entirely true, because one more reason why our God is so great is that he is with us at all times. But the flip side of that same coin is that since we are conditional and physical people, the location of the quiet time CAN matter… If the room is noisy, our ears will listen for people’s voices rather than the Lord’s. If our bellies are empty or eyelids are heavy, our limited concentration will take us towards dreams of food and sleep, not his Kingdom. Because I am a very conditional and limited person, because I am human, I can’t turn my worrisome and anxious heart off with the flip of a switch.

Even though God is with us at all times and we can squeeze in prayers on our walks to school or on the train, He is also our King and not only deserves, but COMMANDS our full attention. And sometimes we can’t reach so deep on the train or in the supermarket. Jesus went to the mountain to have his intimate moments — maybe your mountain top is a private room, getting on your knees, prepping with a worship song, lights turned off. Whatever it is, coming back to the heart of worship is absolutely needed.

For me, dates with Jesus at Starbucks worked for us. And today, I woke up and my soul was CRAVING a date with him. And so as silly and stupid as I felt, I put myself in a position where I knew my eyes and ears and heart and mind would be at His fullest attention. So it’s not about Starbucks, it’s about finding a way to give Him your fullest and undivided attention.

A cup of coffee is just a plus. (;

The Lord provides…

 

“…How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” — Matthew 7:11

We asked for a church, and the Lord delivered so much more. (:

Attending a church in Italy — let alone finding one — was more challenging than I anticipated. There were travel excursions planned the first three Sundays in Verona, so we went through a hiatus of no communal worship or service, and I could just feel my soul longing community. Fortunately, through a friend who studied in Verona previously, we got in touch with a few American Christian churches in the vicinity.

We decided to check out a home church made up of two American missionary families. They invited us to evening service — and supper, as well! Kind folks they are. (;

Each week we gather in the family room and sing along to the music/slideshow on the tv screen, listen to a sermon, followed by a home-cooked meal. (: Last week we met two hours earlier to spend more time together. We ate bread, drank tea, played board games, and just enjoyed each other’s company.

Sundays with these people have been some of my favorite memories while living in Europe. Sometimes I leave church feeling so overwhelmed with the Lord’s love shown through these people. I’m learning more and more why the Lord calls the church beautiful and why he stresses the importance of unity and love within it. Time with the body softens our hearts, allows us to be vulnerable, reveals Christ love in the flesh, reminds us of our purpose, fills us with truth, love, and encouragement, and in turn, reenergizes us to be light in our mission field. And that we can’t do it on our own, He never intended it that way. We need the body.

Living in Europe — apart from CFC + LWAC — has definitely developed a new appreciation for a church to call home. For services to regularly look forward to. For a community to worship with. For brothers and sisters to walk life with. For the word preached to prune you. For leaders to hold you accountable. For prayer meetings and revivals to remind you that the Lord wants to transform you. Being here has increased my love and appreciation for the body. 

Thank you, Jesus, for your provision. (:

Week One Round Up

Happy weekend!

I can’t believe it’s already been a full week since arrival. It feels like time is alwaaays just slipping from our fingers. You walk into one store to look at one thing, you come back out three hours later. A quick bite of gelato? Say good-bye to an hour and a half. Life in Verona is a constant time warp. Or, maybe we’re just having too much fun that time is flying by. (; I don’t know which is more of the logical conclusion. Anyhoo…

School is now in session so this week was less of the leisure walks and four-hour meals and more… I don’t know, school. A very rude awakening that we’re not here on just vacation but to “study” abroad. Oh, yeah. Now my days are preoccupied with a four-hour class of Italian 101 from 9am to 1:15pm, followed by a second class from 2pm to 6pm — depending on the day. Classes range from art history, painting, and photography; and each class (usually) only meets once a week. If it is a full day, by the time we get out, the sun has already set and it’s time to make dinner and go to bed.

But even class tends to fly by. First off Italian 101 is less of a college lecture, and more of a continuous game of charades fused with pictionary. Can you even imagine such a thing? I mean, it’s a room of fourteen people — who are still hungover from the night before and can’t communicate in the same language — trying to formulate their thoughts into sentences. Picture that, and you got yourself Italian 101. But really. There’s a lot of funny hand gestures, drawings on the white board, exchanges of confused looks and blank stares. It’s because the teacher, Elena, speaks solely in Italian as a teaching mechanism to students who don’t know a word of the language (minus vino and ciao, of course). Although there is a lot of time spent on guessing more so than understanding, it is pretty effective because it forces us to THINK in Italian. Sometimes it gets confusing because my brain tends to pull together all my random knowledge of Latin, Korean, Spanish, and English, and then attempt to spit out an Italian answer. Yeah, that doesn’t work out too well. The second the languages seem to have distinct rules separating each other, they share the same word for bathroom or cat, tricking you all over again. Over all though, it’s a really enjoyable period because everyone in the class is eager to learn the language and is pretty cooperative.

Despite all those hours of sitting in class, no worries, we still manage to have our fun. Something new is always going on — a birthday, a special at a nearby bar, a burning of a witch, a chocolate festival, etc. It’s like we’re in Italy or something. For example, this week, our teachers took us to a random cafe in between classes for spritzers which was definitely a change of pace. And on Wednesday I took a class on how to make nutella!

My friend Debbie, back at home, told us that she hates words — and the English language in general — so I should stop vomiting now and just throw in some pics for her easy eyes to enjoy. Here we go, Debbie.

Highlights of the week:

Attended a witch burning, which is a tradition in Italy, symbolizing a new year — along with a really long back story. IMG_1480
We went out to dinner to celebrate the lovely Lauren’s 21st birthday. Birthday girl below.
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La pizza in its maximum glory. MMmmMmMmMm.
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Attended the chocolate festival where all these local shops set up booths to sell their different slabs of chocolates and products.IMG_1504
The most delicious plastic cup of strawberries + nutella + cream. I’ve been deprived of produce for so long that these juicy, fresh strawberries shocked all my taste buds because they forgot what anything besides carbs or chocolate tasted like.
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Truffels on hard bread. 
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This man was doing his own little live infomercial. Quite entertaining because really, who would buy this. It costed like 100 euros or something.
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It wouldn’t be Italy if vino wasn’t offered somewhere within a 2 mile radius. Or, should I say kilometers. 
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I was THIS close to buying these beautiful chocolate covered heels. But then, I knew I would never be able to eat it because it was pretty to look at, and I would try to bring it back home four months later, whether it was in a solid form or not, and then it would melt all over my suitcase and I’d have to clean it later. And I hate cleaning, so. Just kidding. They were like 20 euros.
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Hot Dog ordered one of these things and they were…. the most delicious thing ever. Yup, you got it. You’re catching on.
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Bought myself a custard-filled croissant because it looked soft and chewy.
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My face when I found out it was actually hard and crumbly.
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Hot Dog and I went grocery shopping together to cook our first dinner. (: Eurospar is the local grocery store, comparable to a small Jewel.
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Literally the most delicious sad we’ve ever had in our life. Made from scratch, might I add. 
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Because I’m blogging so much later than the actual events took place, it’s getting much harder to recall different things that happened. Hopefully the pictures of the delicious chocolates kept you interested and distracted you from the lack of (poor) writing. Well, at least now that we have wi-fi in our home, we can expect for some more regular posts with relevant insights!

Thank you for following along on my first week here in Verona — and thank you to those who have been continuously praying for my time here. It’s sometimes hard to find time to reflect and meditate when there’s always something to do, but the Lord has been placing different issues onto my heart that need to be prayed over. Show grace, seek Him, keep fighting. They’re the same prayers, but in a much different context.

It’s definitely been a roller coaster week for me, spiritually — I’m wrestling with thoughts that are so new and different to the stuff that I’m so used to, and I’m learning I need to depend on Him in ways I’ve never thought of. Being without a Christian community, things feel a little unstable as of late. But regardless, I know that God will really expand my heart and eyes to new and better things. I can feel it already, and I get pretty excited.

Thank you again for praying for me and this trip. And let me know how I can pray for you. (:

Sweet News

“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” — Hosea 6:3

The Lord truly does answer those who call on Him. I’ve been searching for truth the past few days,  and the Lord found me in my bitterness and replaced anxiety with a stable ground for my feet to walk on. And for that, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness. I am walking with confidence now— not in my own ability, but in His promise and sovereignty.

Such appropriate news for this time. Finals are approaching and I feel so mentally checked out. But it’s time to bring my A game. It’s time to persevere.

Good luck to everyone with finals! (:
Remember that you are not consumed, the Lord’s compassion never fails.