12.12.2017

On My Mind Volume 2



Here are some things on my mind. Just imagine us sitting over a cup of hot chocolate and I'd tell you all this stuff and then you could tell me all the random stuff in your head.

Okay, can we talk about Christmas cards? First off, I have decided the best Christmas cards are the ones with pictures on them and I'm here to tell you a sad story that I didn't get picture cards. Whomp, whomp! But I will next year.

You know what bugs me? That people get annoyed if someone puts an apostrophe on Christmas cards. For example it wouldn't be Johnson's it's just The Johnsons. I have read people's post on social media how it bugs them so bad and someone even hinted that they almost would rather not get a card than to have that grammatical error. FOR REALS PEOPLE?! GO TO BURMA! That makes me want to address a card to them with so many incorrect apostraphes and then on the inside fill their name like this NAME'S NAME'S NAME'S. MERRY CHRISTMAS'S. ha! I say count your blessings and be grateful someone is sending you a card, be grateful our country has a working mail system. Just be grateful.

Can we talk about Starbucks? Why do they make such AMAZING hot chocolate? I've had more than I can count and the other day when it was 18ยบ outside I had two. And poor baristas, I make my hot chocolate complex. Here is my order: a grande hot chocolate with 3 pumps (instead of 4), whipped cream and no chocolate drizzle on top of the whipped cream. Sorry baristas, but I can't do 4 pumps of chocolate syrup because it's too sweet, and the chocolate drizzle on top of the whipped cream steals the thunder of the whipped cream. A true first world problem going on here with my hot cocoa..... Send help.

Let's talk about my teeth and the dentist. First off, I'm pretty sure due to stress that I ground my teeth at night when we lived in Burma which has led to severe tooth pain on my left side. I had two crowns done this year and one crown didn't work so a root canal is next. But I am a real weirdo because I don't fear dental work and I really look forward to seeing my dentist. He is probably around my Dad's age and is one of the kindest people I have ever met. I have a small overbite and he has never told me I need braces (although I probably technically do). He has told me numerous times I have a beautiful smile. Also, I had to get a crown the day after Static died and when a squirrel came to the window I cried. He was so incredibly kind that day. He told me that he had a dog that died but in due time his wife surprised him with a new one. He told me over time I would feel better and he was right. He is just so nice and does a great job taking care of people's teeth. If you need a dentist call Dr. Burton at 684-5511. Side note, he also has no idea I'm writing this. Dental work isn't sponsoring this post, but I wish it were because crowns aren't cheap.

My best friend texted the other day complaining about the weather and I replied with "go to Burma!" ha! I'm so sure people are sick of hearing that but I have no sympathy. She asked if I could sympathize a bit and I said no because we have heaters, ac, window shades, homes, etc. My poor friend. But for real, go to Burma peeps.

Not to get too political on here but I told Dave the other day that since Trump has been in office there haven't been riots against police like there previously had been. And I'm glad! I'm not saying Trump is the answer to this not happening but I will say that he has been more pro police and military and I'm thankful.

The picture above was taken on a photo walk I did with IG Wichita. It was interesting. I might have been one of the oldest people there. Apparently 32 is really old. =) Someone had me pose and asked me to make a straight face and I just can't do that you guys.

12.09.2017

5 Practical Ways to Share The Gospel


A while back I shared how God has put a burden on my heart to share the gospel right here in my hometown of Wichita. I hope and pray that God has put a burden in your heart to share the gospel where you live as well. 

If you are like me, you may often wonder “How can I share the gospel and not sound like a weirdo? How do I even do this? I'm not a missionary or a pro at this and it can be scary.”  I feel you! I have asked myself all of those questions. And the truth is, you might feel weird sometimes but people and Jesus are worth it. I also want you to know that there are creative ways you can share Christ and it doesn't have to always be scary or awkward. So, today, I'm here to help you find practical ways to share the Good News that Jesus saves. 

If you ever have questions about how to do this or would like some prayer as you share Jesus please please e-mail me. I'd love to talk with you about this or pray for you. 

Christ is the best news we can ever offer someone yet we want to present Him in a tasteful way. I think there are so many ways to do that so I am going to give you some ideas of what I do and things I have seen. If you want to share the gospel then I would suggest praying and brainstorming and see what God leads you to do.

1. A Picture with a Verse

This one was free and super easy! Parabo press offers all new clients free 25 square prints. I think you pay shipping but that's it. I ordered prints of flowers and some travel pictures and wrote verses on the back. These come in a thick zip lock pouch so it is really easy to take them with me in my purse. When I’m at a coffee shop, restaurant or some place I am interacting with someone I tell them I took this picture and that there is a verse on the back for them. 

I thought so long about what verse to put on there but over time I am starting to realize that so many people don’t know John 3:16 and the gospel is so plain and clear in that verse that I think I will stick with that for those cards. Some cards have a little note some don't. I will also tell you that every person I have handed these too has been so incredibly grateful. If someone ever gives it back I will feel really dumb but I'll deal with that when it comes. 

And if you are thinking that you'd like to do this but don't think your pictures are good enough please e-mail me and I will send you some pictures you can use, free of charge. 

2. Building Friendships

I know this is probably a given but sometimes it takes months and years of friendship building before God opens a clear door for the gospel to be shared. I encourage you to look for those opportunities. I currently am befriending a Muslim family and Dave and I know it could take a long time to earn their trust where they will listen to us present Christ to them. 

Also, I shared how my co-worker came to Christ (you can read about that by clicking here) and a big part of that was because God put it on my heart to reach out to her when she was going through a hard time. That friendship was already there and then God opened a door to show His love through me and I think that is a big part of why she listened to the gospel. Look and pray for those opportunities in your life. They are all round us we just have to be sensitive to The Holy Sprit’s leading. 

3. Photography Bible Tract 

With my photography business I wrote a small Bible tract that I give to every new client after their photo session. I basically compare a photo shoot to salvation and I explain that just like I edit pictures Christ can edit sin out with His shed blood on the cross. 

I know I can’t sit with every client and go over the plan of salvation but I can give them that card that plants the seed and trust The Holy Spirit to work as He sees fit. I also know not everyone can hand out Bible tracts at their job but I can, so I do. =) If you can't maybe you could have a pocket New Testament sitting on your desk, a copy of Our Daily Bread devotionals for people to take, a verse at your desk, something. Pray and ask God to show you how and where. He will answer! 

Our vet sent us a letter after Static died. Here is a little piece of what it said, "While I understand and empathize with your loss, may I also remind you that our relationship to our pets isn't nearly as important as our need to have a relationship with Jesus Christ." He gave the gospel in a very creative way and I'm so thankful he shares the gospel with so many people who come into his office. And side note, we love our vet! If you need one just click here

4. Sharing Christ In The Way

We can share Christ in our every day occurrences and I really think it's easy to do this with kids. And Dad and Moms, you are the first missionary your kids will ever see, so preach well to them. ;) Sharing Christ in the way is where you take a situation you are in and relate it to a Bible story or Jesus. Here are a few examples:

My nephew Elliot and I went standup paddle boarding. First off, paddle boarding with a five year old kid sitting on your board adds an entire new element of fun and scariness but then add in the choppy water that was there that day and it was kind of scary. I didn't want to tip our board and dump my nephew over. So while I was trying to paddle I asked Elliot if he knew the story about the disciples and Jesus when they got in the boat to go to the other side and all a big storm came upon them. He told me he didn't so I told him the story and it was a great opportunity because we were on 'waves' so it was easy to tell him about Jesus and how God helps us through life's storms.

When I worked at the Y I had a kid during swim lessons tell me how a rainbow was made and I told her that her science was correct but that ultimately God made them. She then asked me who God was, and I told her. I told her God made her and loved her. The next week she came back to me and said "I told my Mom what you said and she said my Dad and Mom made me." ha ha! I cracked up. I did end up giving that Mom a Jesus Story Bible Book and told her about the questions her daughter had been asking me. I invited them to church as well. They never came to church but I got to plant a seed and I trust that God will send someone else to water it.

We each have daily encounters with lots of people. Look for ways to say things about Christ in every day conversations. God could use one of those as an open door to share more about Him.

5. CHRISTmas cards

This is the PERFECT season to share about Christ. I gave a Chirstmas card to the lady at Dillards that always helps me with my Origins skincare products. The card talks about Christ and I wrote John 3:16 inside. I also wrote her a thank you for all her help in there. Dave and I plan to get a poinsetta (or something Christmasy) for our neighbors with a card and verse as well. Every season is the right time to share Jesus but Christmas just makes it easy!




I share these ideas to hopefully get the gears turning in your brain. How can you share Jesus with those in your life? Time is short friends and eternity is well, forever and ever and ever! Jesus and heaven is so incredibly close but the flip side to that is this, people will go to hell; eternal flames, separated from Christ. What will you do to stop that? Get sharing! What can you do today? 

11.29.2017

A Caribbean Cruise

October was a CRAZY work month for Dave! At the beginning of the month I literally looked at hime and said "See ya in November, Buddy!" Thankfully November came and his work was gracious and gave him an entire week off without even asking. I was so thankful! We knew we wanted to go somewhere and had it narrowed down between going to NYC, a cruise or hiking in the dessert and we went on a cruise. Neither of us had been on an cruise in the US before and I went in with minimal expectations.

It's been really interesting to hear people's different perspectives and experiences about cruising. Some people love it some people don't, I think we fall into the latter category but I wanted to give a recap and explain why.

The cruise was a five night four day cruise. For starters, if you read my latest half marathon recap you'll know I had major poop issues on that run so when we got to Florida and I received this email I was just bracing myself for a week of diarrhea.





I bought a pack of Clorox wipes and went to town on our room when we got in there. Apparently I wasn't the only one who bought Clorox wipes because I saw a lady with a tube of Clorox wipes cleaning her chairs and tables at dinner! Hilarious! The first night of the cruise we had a dinner and I looked over and to my dismay saw a lady barf ALL OVER THE CARPETED AISLE. Then people walked through it and even some waiters walked through it. Dave and I laughed and I figured if we lived through Burma we would live through this. ha! I thought that was a foretelling of what was to come but thankfully there weren't reports of sick people. I'm guessing that lady was sea sick or something.

Our cruise had 2 port days and 2 sea days and I'll just recap by sharing what we did for port days and we did on sea days.

Port 1 - Princess Cays

The Princess Cays is located in the Bahamas. It is property owned by the cruise line. We were going to go on a snorkeling excursion but they were all sold out so we just swam and snorkeled at the beach.

The beach was a man made one and there was a gate to even get into The Bahamas. The beach was pretty and the ocean was beautiful but it felt very commercialized and we saw zero local culture that day, which is okay it's just different than how we travel. We did love the swimming and sunshine and you can't beat that. The beach is always lovely.

My favorite thing from that port was the local ferry boat captain I got to talk with. He told me things about the island and was just really nice.

Here are a few pictures from the Princess Cays.



Port 2 - Domincan Republic (Amber Cove / Puerta Plata) 

Our second port was my favorite. We ported at Amber Cove (another commercialized property owned by the cruises). We went on an early morning waterfall tour and really enjoyed it. We hiked up about a mile and then got to slide down the rocks, which were like a water slide, into the next cave pool. It was a lot of fun and we even got to jump off a 15-20 foot cliff. I don't have pictures to show you of that because they were like $60 and we weren't allowed to bring our own camera. The local guides were really great I just wish our group was a bit smaller. There was 26 of us and that made it a bit cramped in the cave pools. We still had a really good time though and I would recommend that excursion.

After that we went back to the boat and grabbed our things and completely left the resort area. We hired a local taxi to tour us around Puerta Plata. He took us to town square where the Cathedral was, to a fort and to a local market so I could buy some fruit but I ended up with coffee beans instead. =) We loved loved loved leaving the commercialized property and cruise tours to spend time with a local. He was incredibly gracious and kind and it was fun to speak some Spanish to him and learn a bit about his life there.

A picture of Dave, taking a picture. You're welcome, Dave. =)


Sea Days 

I think originally we were supposed to have one sea day but we had two sea days due to the hurricanes that recently came through. The cruise ship had many activities to choose to do. My favorites were the games where everyone interacts together and art talks / auctions. They had a hilarious comedian, a magician, musical shows (70's disco so we didn't go) and even a little cooking demo.

We also swam and I hit up the treadmills twice. It felt so good to run, and I'm not going to lie, seeing how lazy people were on a cruise and how much everyone ate motivated my running. So thank you everyone on the boat. ;)

They had other events that were just too 'fake' for me. For example, they had a lei making class which sounded so fun but when I got there I discovered the leis were just a little plastic DIY packet rather than real flowers. LAME! LAME! And major disappointment for this girl who loves flowers. There were only about 15 of us there so they could have had some real flowers. I did sit by a really nice lady though and had a lovely chat with her so that was really nice. Some of the other events really seemed to be advertised hard but when you arrived it seemed more like a photo opp for them rather than an event.

I did like the pools but I got grossed out after seeing a lady use a tissue to soak up some ooze coming out of her wound and then she got in the pool. BARF! That was the end of swimming for me.

Pros & Cons


Pros

-All food provided. It is nice to not have to worry about finding food. They had a nice variety so that was fun.

-Don't have to pack and unpack bags. After backpacking in Asia and camping in my car this is a pro. It's nice to have all your stuff in one room and not have to worry about it.

-Get to talk to lots of different people! I enjoyed talking to lots of the staff on board and also thought it was fun to chat with people on the boat.

-It's really easy. You don't have to worry about how to get to different places you just show up.

Cons

-Too much 'serve me' American mentality. There's a difference between relaxing and between just binge eating and expecting people to answer your every beck and call. After living in Asia, that just doesn't sit well with me.

-Crowded! 3,000+ people on one boat means crowds. Some people don't mind them some do. I felt a bit overwhelmed by the crowds so we tried to swim and do activities when other people weren't around, like at dinner when they were all eating.

-Commercialized and overpriced excursions. We felt like many of the events on the boat were another chance for the cruise line to take photos which you could then purchase for an extremely overpriced amount. As an example, if you wanted to take a tour into the Dominican Republic it was around $75 a person. However, if you walked out of the cruise area you could rent a local taxi for $30. I just felt like it was very expensive for add ons but at the same time I think that is just how cruises work and you can expect that when you do it.


Final Thoughts

There are definitely things we enjoyed about cruising and things we didn't. We decided we most likely won't cruise again just the two of us but think with a group it would be fun, especially an Alaskan Cruise. I think for us personally, we like to engage more into the local culture and cruising isn't made for that. I think if you are needing a very chill and laid back vacation than a cruise would be absolutely perfect!



What are your thoughts on cruising? Do you love it? Don't love it? Tell me your thoughts. 
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