Vikings and Coldplay Part 2

So about this 12 hour train ride… We departed Oslo early in the day, expected to arrive to Stockholm that evening with time to relax, explore, etc.  While we were on the train, there was an accident on the tracks ahead of us.  This put our train at a dead stop until all investigations were complete and the train was cleared to move again.  At first nobody seemed to mind the stop, us included.  We had everything we needed for survival, internet, snacks, and adult beverages.  We had all of these things…for the first 2 hours of our delay.  After 2 hours the bar/snack car was cleaned out.  Believe me when I say a train full of tired, tipsy Scandinavians is quite entertaining!  We arrived in Stockholm just about the time that the nightlife crew was leaving the bars. We were greeted warmly by two guys, mid-pee on the side of a building with a slurred “Welcome to Sweden!”

I must admit I was a little unsure of what to expect the next day.  I woke up and walked out to a stunningly beautiful city.  The amount of care and attention to detail was evident everywhere you looked.  This was exactly what I imagined Europe to be.  Cobblestone streets, tiny shops, palaces, and awe-inspring churches.  The two top photos above are inside such a church.  Again, forgive my iPhone photography! The alter is made with silver and had incredibly intricate detail carved into it.  The stained glass was just as detailed and amazing.  It was humbling to be in a place of worship like that.  A place where countless hours went into making this church and making sure it was the most grand building in the city.  This makes total sense.  I mean, doesn’t God deserve our very best and grandest?  That was the thought process back in the day.  In every city the biggest, most beautiful building was a place of worship.  That is something I struggle with remembering, to give God my very best and grandest.  It’s easy to give God what’s left over, at night, while I’m trying to fall asleep.  Or give Him my all, when things aren’t going my way.  “Commit to the Lord, whatever you do and He will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3  To me this means commit EVERYTHING to the Lord first, and He will  handle the plans.

We closed out this trip with a Coldplay concert.  This was definitely the most amazing, entertaining, and inspiring concerts I’ve ever attended.  Coldplay + 55,000 Scandinavians = a pretty unforgettable night.  I still wish I would have done a better job of recording everything we did, but like my photography, my journalling improves with time I promise!

My next adventure took me south of the equator for a time of relaxation on the beach, and to a jungle full of Mayan ruins…

Until next time!



Vikings and Coldplay Part 1

To all my traveling friends who don’t journal during their travels, JOURNAL WHILE YOU TRAVEL!  This is something I do every time I go anywhere now but I didn’t do it starting out.  It’s times like this that I wish I could go back and karate kick my younger self.

Fast forward 6 years after Peru and I embarked on another unforgettable adventure.  This time to Norway and Sweden.  I was invited by a dear friend of mine to go with her, her daughter, and her daughter’s best friend (all three amazing women and good friends!).  As I said, I wished I had journaled during this trip.  This is because I have the attention span of a goldfish and if I don’t write down certain things in new places, I will think “Oh wow, God just showed me something amazing!…  Oh look! A mountain!” …Ok, maybe I don’t lose my train of thought that quick, (although I’d be lying if I said it’s never happened before) but If I don’t write things down, I soon am distracted by something else, i.e. goldfish complex.  It pains me to say that I didn’t journal once this entire trip!  I still remember the experiences, but reading journals from my travels make the trips and emotions I felt on them come back to life.  So go hit up a TJMaxx and buy a journal!

While in Norway I had the opportunity to visit many cities, including Bergen, Voss, and Oslo.  Norway is an amazing country full of breath taking scenery and intelligent, beautiful people.  Beauty not only in appearance, (All my single friends, trust me, make the jump across the pond!) but also in how they interact with each other and how they take care of their surroundings.  I remember a vivid sense of awe when we arrived there.  The landscape plays an integral part of the Norwegian culture.  For example, we passed more than one Viking burial mound that were several hundred years old, still undisturbed, in a country where all land is public domain (That means any human can camp anywhere they want).  They respect the land, it’s history, and work hard to maintain the natural beauty of it.  Every city we went to was very clean, the people active, and scenery so beautiful that even when you stood in the middle of it you questioned if it was real.

The highlight of Norway had to be kayaking through the fjords.  Unfortunately, the only camera I took with me was my iPhone 5 (insert karate kick to past self here).  I PROMISE my photography on my trips improves with time!  The picture of the fjord above does NOT do it justice.  I was kayaking in water 3,000+ feet deep, surrounded by mountains 3,000+ feet high.  Waterfalls that were hundreds of feet tall looked like a leaky faucet on the side of these mountains.  Kayaking there almost brought me to tears with how incredible it was.  I kept thinking “God made this!  How awesome is this world He has given us?”  This particular excursion solidified a few things for me.  First, that I needed to spend more time exploring and appreciating the beauty of the outdoors.  Second, I love meeting people who are different than me.  Although, even in the middle of a Norway we ran into a UC Bearcat :).  Our kayak group consisted of a Canadian couple who were diplomats in Prague, a German professor, and a Norwegian teacher.  I loved hearing their stories and why they chose to visit this amazing place.  Lastly, I still remember the feeling after we left the fjord.  It was a feeling of inspiration, excitement, and the need to tell as many people as I could about this amazing experience.   It wasn’t until well after I was back home did I make the connection that these are the exact feelings people get when they encounter Jesus in a real way.  When I look at the spiritual break throughs I have had since then, the feelings mirror when I was in that fjord.  Those feelings were also the feelings I experienced in Peru.  This is now always tucked away in the back of my mind.  Chase that closeness with Jesus and to try and share it with others.  For me, this has taken many different forms including my travels, a shifted viewpoint at work, and a different approach to my marriage.  Overall, that trip lead to the realization that I had been just coasting through life with a “Meh” existence and that wasn’t going to cut it for me anymore.  More importantly, that God had much more exciting things He wanted me chasing.

This trip definitely caused my mindset to shift.  From then on I wanted to jump at adventure, and aggressively pursue things I felt God nudging me towards.

My next adventure started with a 4 hour turned 12 hour train ride to Stockholm, but more on that later…




Back in the day…

It was 8 years ago now that I set out on a trip of a lifetime.  As a restless college senior who hadn’t traveled much I was OK with the thought of getting out of my parent’s house and away from my 26 credit hour semester for a week.  Yes, you read right, twenty six!  Being a bratty 21 year old I thanklessly agreed to go on an all expense paid trip (took me a few years but thank you so much mom and dad!) to Chincha, Peru. I went with no thought more than I want to do something different.  I had no idea that this trip would change my life.

You see, it was a mission trip.  I was assigned to be the group’s photographer based on my “experience” (2 classes in high school in photography).  While the pictures above are far from my best work, they remain some of my favorites because of the memories they give me.  This trip not only jumpstarted my love of photography, but also awakened something in me that is a huge part of my life today.  The idea that I was created for something specific, something that glorifies God, and adventure.  During this first trip I met some amazing and beautiful people, was given a much needed reality check on how blessed I am, and saw people living their faith by using their own individual gifts.  I also ate a guinea pig that I had cuddled only hours before, which I’m not proud of…although he was pretty tasty.

It was this trip that planted a seed in my mind that I was meant for something more.  Throughout these last eight years I have gotten married (to a smoking hot and awesome husband), had a wonderful and challenging career as an inner city teacher, visited 7 more countries, and started a photography business.  By no means do I feel like I have anything figured out but I do know the same thing I learned in Peru, that I was created to do something awesome that glorifies God using the gifts He has given me.  My church has been a huge part of my growth and is the main reason I have started putting my thoughts out there for others to see.  I feel like in order to experience more of God and adventure, I need to push myself out of my comfort zone.  Trust me when I say writing a blog for all of the internet to see is WAY out of my comfort zone!  My goal for this page is to share my adventures, my journey with God, and the amazing things He has in store for me.  Thanks so much for tagging along!