12.31.2015

Christmas 2015 - From Flip-Flops to Snow Boots!



Christmas 2015 - from flip-flops to snow boots! It was a huge (but awesome) change.

It’s kind of weird to be writing a post like this. For the past year we have been in the SE Asian heat sweating like crazy and then not even after a month of being back in the US we are in Washington State where the snowfall was waist high.

Dave and I spent two weeks in Kansas seeing family and friends there. We had Christmas with Dave’s family in Wichita and then we came to Washington to have Christmas with my family. We have an ‘every other year system’ for Christmas, so one year on Christmas day we are with Dave’s family and then the other year with my family. 

My family met up near Leavenworth, Washington this year. We rented out a lodge and brought in all our own food. The lodge was right by Lake Wenatchee and the views were incredible. We went into town a couple of times and the town itself is so cute because it is modeled after a Bavarian village.

Most of all we just enjoyed time together. There are two new babies in the family since Dave and I got back and it was really neat to meet them and to see all the cousins together.  It was definitely chaotic at time because, well 4 children under the age of 4 under one roof and we had our hands full, but I’m it was still really great to be around family. 

The Lodge:


A Day at Leavenworth: 


Sugar Overloading...


Sights around Lake Wenatchee


 I hope you had a very Merry Christmas! 
What was your favorite thing about Christmas this year? 


12.21.2015

Project Life - Documenting Myanmar and Thailand Part 2



Project Life! 

I've blogged about it before (right here) but today I wanted to give a mini update on where I am with my PL book. 

If you don't know about Project Life it is basically a super simple scrapbook and photo book combined. You can go into as much detail as you want with your PL book or keep it simple and I like having those two options. 

I got a PL life book to document our year abroad in Myanmar and Thailand. I kept the book pretty simple and I'm really liking how it is turning out. I have a little more to add to it so hopefully I'll be done with it soon. 

Teaching was a big part of my life in Myanmar and I also taught in Korea previously. In Korea I took a million trillion pictures and completely overwhelmed myself. In Myanmar I tried to simplify how many pictures I took and I was selective on what I put in this book. 

For the book I put one picture for each child, with the exception of two kids that were cousins, I grouped their picture together. That way I will have their cute little face forever in my album and I hope it will be a reminder for me to pray for them when I see them. 

This big picture is of Shane and I love the card above his picture because so often Shane would say "HERE WE GO!!!" 


I did put a page or two of the smaller pictures and I need to add a couple of more. If you are a teacher, PL is a great way to document but not over document your life as a teacher. 


My 30th birthday had a few pages too! 


I documented our trip to Chaung Tha beach. It's not anything super fancy but I do want to document and remember the places Dave and I went to.


Downtown Yangon

Downtown Yangon is full of beautiful buildings built by the British but unfortunately they have not been up kept over the years. Dave and I really liked downtown though and we did a few walking tours down there and we also took a lot of guests there. 

Something I thought was really fun was that I took the map that Dave and I used pretty much every time we needed to flag down a taxi and explain where we were going. The map is from around the area where we lived. I just cut it down into a 6x8 and then put this little card in there with some washi tape. 

I know in the US we use GPS mostly for maps but if you are in an airport or stop at a highway rest stop they usually have free maps and who doesn't love free???


Elephants! These had to be documented and I have my blog post almost ready to go about these guys.


My parents and Byron and Becky came for a visit and I put a page or two in for each time guests came. Having guests were so special and I want to make sure that our time with family and friends is documented properly.


I'm really thankful I had this book this past year. It helped me to be crafty while abroad without having to haul over a massive amount of crafting supplies. 

Want to know what my next fun project is? We R Memories! It's basically a mini PL but it is for 4x4 pictures. You can use your Instagram or upload your own they just have to be square. I also got the super cute travel journaling cards. This was actually a gift from my sister and I plan on documenting our next road trip using this. 

want to see some more PL posts? Check out Amanda's pages. She is the one who introduced me to this new fun hobby.  

Do you do Project Life? If so please share what you do with yours. I love seeing people's projects. 

12.07.2015

We're back!


    

We're back in the land of America! And it feels so good! 

Dave and I calculated the total hours we had been up and traveling and it added up to a whopping 54 hours!!!! We didn't sleep a lot on our flights so we were pretty much walking zombies but we were were so excited to be home that it didn't phase us too bad. 

We spent the last week seeing a lot of family and friends, eating, sleeping and wrapping Christmas presents. 

Home doesn't feel too much different but there are a few things I noticed right away. The first is water pressure. Wow! America has water pressure. I even called Dave over to look at how much water pressure was in the washing machine and how fast it was filling. We had to manually add buckets of water to the washer in Burma, which I didn't mind but it is nice to not have to manually do that. 

Also everything here is super easy. It's easy to purchase groceries. It is easy to eat out because I'm not wondering if I will get sick. It is easy to commute. It's easy to shop. We have it really good here. It's been a little hard to process how easy it is because as I walk in the land of plenty the images in my mind of people in Burma and Cambodia who have so little are ever present too. I haven't processed all that yet but I will eventually. 

In the year we were gone Aidan, our nephew, is now walking but he is still little and really fun and cute. Two of my best friends had babies and I got to meet them, which was so much fun!!! 


              

That picture of Aidan and Dave just cracks me up! That boy did not want to ride in the wagon.


We will be in Wichita until December 16th and then we are hitting the road again. I know no one is surprised... My car is in Idaho so we are going to fly up there and get it. PLUS I have a new nephew to meet there and my sister and I have a years worth of baking and catching up to do. 

After Idaho my side of the family is all meeting in Washington state for Christmas and I have another niece to meet this time!!! It's so much fun to meet all these babies. Also, my brother is supposed to be deploying some time in January so we all want to get together before he leaves. 

After that we are going to drive back to Kansas and then Dave is going to job hunt. He has been keeping his eye out and asking around about jobs here in Kansas so we will see what doors God opens. I told Dave I am willing to go wherever but part of me really wants to stay here in Kansas and have some stability and structure. I feel like my life has been on the go with huge life changes since 2012 so some calm and structure sounds really nice right now. 

Thanks again for praying us through and for encouraging this past year. I'm still so thankful for the huge community of support God gave us. 

As far as blogging, I am still planning on writing and sharing but it isn't going to be as consistent with the holiday season and all these life changes right now. I will be around though and hope to keep sharing with you all. 

If you have any questions for us, e-mail or comment and I'll get back to you. 

Have a Merry Christmas season, friends!!! 

11.30.2015

Letter Me Loved - Reminders of Grace

3 Ways to Fight Forgetfulness | Letter Me Loved

Hi, Friends! I'm really excited to have Letter Me Loved on the blog today. I have read Jenny's blog from way back when and it has been neat to see her and her good friend launch a ministry and business to encourage women in The Lord. I also love love love hymns so it has been neat to see their work be put with hymns. 

There is a discount code at the end of this post for SS2SI readers and I highly encourage you to take advantage of it. Not only will you be blessed by their work but it will bless and encourage them as well. 

_______________________________________________________________________

Hi, it’s Jenny and Sarah here! We’d like to say a special thank you to Beka for letting us take over her space and introduce you to our blog and business, Letter Me Loved.

Just the other day we were sitting around a porch table at our favorite cupcake shop with four of our closest girl friends. We went around and around that table talking about our highs and lows, what we’re reading and learning, and the burdens we just really needed covered in prayer. We don’t know how many times the conversation went something like this: I’m just really struggling with (fill in the blank). I know that God’s Word says (blank), but I just (forget, get distracted, need to constantly remind myself). We bet you can fill in those blanks all too easily. We know we can! Our sweet group of friends have several solutions (or tricks, if you will) for these bouts of forgetfulness, and we’d like to share them with you today 

1. Preach the Gospel to yourself every day. 

One of our favorite passages is Ephesians 2:1-10. (Go ahead and click through to read it now - we’ll wait.) We’ve found that Paul’s words here are such a beautiful and succinct retelling of the Gospel. It only takes about two minutes to read, but - man - are those words powerful. We’re sinners and we struggle so much with this and that and the other, but God (can we get an amen?) being rich in mercy and love, made us alive through Christ. Those words “but God” change everything! Constantly reminding ourselves of our place in God’s bigger story of love and redemption is exactly what we need to face the struggles and temptations of this world. 

2. Find someone to hold you accountable. 

Sometimes it takes someone else preaching the gospel to us, when we don’t have the words to remind ourselves. We’re pretty blessed to have not one, but five other girls to love us and pour into us. We get together a couple of times a month to catch up on life and share the good, the bad and everything in-between. We also have a group text message, so it’s so simple to send out a praise report, a prayer request or a “man, this Scripture really spoke to me this morning” text. It’s also a place where we can check up on one another to see how we are doing with the “fill in the blank” struggles mentioned above. Often accountability is exactly what we need to make the U-turn of repentance. 

3. Surround ourselves with reminders of grace. 


Above Jenny’s desk is a DIY watercolor artwork that says, “In Christ alone my hope is found.” Every time she looks at it, she’s reminded that her hope and worth are not found in her job or how she performs it. By Sarah’s coffee station is a print of Ephesians 1:5 that reads, “In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of His will to the praise of His glorious grace.” This way she’s reminded at the start of her day that God has chosen her as a beloved daughter. 

We know from experience that strategically placed Scripture, hymn lyrics, C.S. Lewis quotes, etc. can be the reminder we need to turn our day around and refocus our hearts and minds. And this third trick - it’s why we created Letter Me Loved. Because we forget. Because we wander. Because we need to be constantly reminded of the amazing grace that sent our Lord, Jesus Christ, to the cross and forever changed our lives. 

Letter Me Loved is a hand-lettering and design shop (and blog) dedicated to encouraging and inspiring Christ followers by creating reminders of grace and inviting them to share in our lives. We’re two best friends who wanted to use the talents and passions God gave us to encourage women just like you. You can read our full launch story here if you wish.

Letter Me Loved 2016 Calendar


Our first product is a 2016 Reminders of Grace Calendar that features 12 months of hand-lettered hymns on a watercolor background. We chose hymns because so many - Amazing Grace, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Be Thou My Vision - have stopped us in our tracks. These songs, which have been passed down from generation to generation, are Scripture-filled reminders of a God who deserves our praise.

2015 "Christ the King" Christmas Print | Letter Me Loved


We’ve also just added a special line of Christmas prints and greeting cards. Because sometimes the reason for this most joyful time of year gets buried under the glamour and stress of consumerism and busyness. So please browse our shop, visit our blog or join our online community

We LOVE to make new friends. And, just because we like you so much, we’re offering Sunshine to the Square Inch readers 15% off their entire purchase. Just enter the code SUNSHINE at checkout. (But don’t wait too long, the discount only lasts through 2015.) 

We hope you enjoyed our little tips for fighting forgetfulness. What do you do to remind yourself of God’s amazing grace?

11.29.2015

A Recap of Cambodia and Vietnam


Hello! 

By the time you read this post Dave and I should hopefully be home! We are currently in Qatar in the Middle East waiting for our connecting flight to Chicago. I think I have slept about 8 hours in the last 36 soooo let's just say jet lag is going to be my good friend for a few days. 

Today I'm going to share a recap of Cambodia and Vietnam. This is actually the 2nd time I am writing this post because the 1st one got deleted, which is a bloggers nightmare, in case you were wondering....

Processing these two countries, especially Cambodia, was really hard for me. There was a lot of poverty there and some really hard things to see (I'll talk more about it in the post). I am also surprised because I don't recall a lot of other bloggers mentioning these things, which is fine, but there is so many difficult things there I don't know how someone could post about it and not share that side of it too. I understand being positive and I'm not faulting other bloggers but I think that a place like Cambodia needs to be understood for the good and the hard things. 

Cambodia! 

I'll tell you the highlight of our trip first but I have to give you a background story. 

The missionaries in Thailand that we stay with led a man to the Lord many many years ago. This man became the pastor of their church in Thailand. Then during his preaching he kept saying how more missionaries were needed and then .... God called him and his wife to serve in Cambodia. 

Pastor Sonthoon lives in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We got to visit with him over several meals, we got to meet members of his church, we taught a couple of English classes and he just shared with us about the highs and lows of working there. He also talked a lot about the poverty there and it was really eye opening for me. 

It was such a blessing to fellowship with him and to hear about what God is doing in Cambodia. 


Siem Reap is famous for the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. I think they were built during the 11th century so they are really really old. 

I'm going to be honest, and hopefully this isn't offensive, but I just wasn't impressed. Dave reminded me that going there was a good way to learn about why Cambodians believe what they do today and I agree that he is right. However, the temples themselves were dilapidated and I think a lot of the pictures I have seen on-line must have been photo shopped or something. 

I think a few things played into my perspective: I've been in Asia for a year and I've seen a lot of Buddhist temples. I also have completely different beliefs than Buddhists so it isn't sacred for me. To be honest, it makes me sad to see people worship there. After experiencing Jesus and the realness of His presence temples just don't cut it. We also had to get up around 5am to see the sunrise and neither Dave nor I are 5am kind of people. =)

I am glad we went though. The temples are HUGE and the parts that intact are ornate and interesting. I also loved the temples with the massive trees. I've never seen roots grow over buildings like that. 


After Siem Reap we took a super duper bumpy bus ride to Phnom Penh. Upon arrival we were swarmed by tuk tuk drivers saying "Do you want a tuk tuk? Where you go? Tuk Tuk?". We walked to our hotel, it was hot, I was hungry and then hangry and then I cried big fat tears when we got to our hotel room. ha ha! Phnom Pen was a lot like Myanmar and I just wasn't ready to be in that environment again. After cooling off and eating I felt much better. 

PP is known for 3 things: The Royal Palace, The Killing Fields and The S21 Prison. 

The Royal Palace is beautiful and highly recommend it! It isn't super crowded and is just a really neat place to see. 

If you go, make sure you have a shirt with sleeves. A scarf won't cut it and you'll have to be like me and buy one of their lame shirts ... ;)


The Killing Fields and S21 Prison 

This was definitely the hardest part about our trip. Even though it was hard, I highly highly recommend it. I think people who don't vote and those who don't get involved politically or study history should visit here. It is eye opening and it is so good to be educated because history does repeat itself if we aren't careful. 

The Killing Fields was a former mass grave where the Khmer Rouge violently murdered thousands of people. They are actually known for killing around 1.7 to 2.2 MILLION people and it happened during the 1970's. The tour at the killing fields is an audio tour and I won't go into detail of how they killed people, especially the children, but it makes my stomach ill. Even now, every few months, they have to clean up the bones that surface up. We even walked over some of them, it was awful. I'm not going to talk more about it on this blog because I know in a few months the nightmares are going to come. 

The Prison was just as awful and Dave actually would go into a room and tell me if he think I could handle it or not, which I didn't go into about 2/3 of the rooms.  

I do recommend reading this story right here. It is about one of the generals who murdered thousands of people who ended up coming to Christ. 

Sight of mass grave where tourists leave their bracelets for a remembrance
Cambodia was also difficult because there were so many poor people there. It was sad. You would eat and they would come up to you and beg. People, who had lost limbs to land mines, would ask for money. I don't fault them either and my heart hurt for them. 

If you do go to PP I would recommend at shopping at the local boutiques. You will pay a few more dollars but many of those shops give jobs to the disabled or those rescued from the sex trade.  

Sorry to be a downer about a country but it was just hard. I have talked to several friends who visited there and they said the same thing. I'm glad I could talk about it with them and process through it. 


Vietnam! 

Vietnam was an interesting and fun country. I never realized how influential the French were there. Many of the buildings are French looking and they have baguettes. Thank you France! 

We started in Ho Chi Minh City and then flew up to Hanoi. Dave visited several museums, we shopped the local markets and we just walked around a lot. We did go to the tallest building there for a lookout of the city. That was fun too. 

Something funny about Vietnam - the locals loved my wavy hair. Like they would touch my head and play with my hair and say "Oooh, it is like silk." ha ha! It was fun. 

Dave also bought a 3 layered North Face jacket for $37 so I say that is a big fat win right there. 

Food! You can't go there and not eat a ton of food. It was good! 


Lastly, we did a tour of Ha Long bay. We were excited to bask in the sun BUT it rained and was in the 50's. It was beautiful though and I'm really glad we went. To stay on the bay you take a boat trip overnight. The trip includes a visit to a cave, kayaking, swimming, a cooking class and awesome views. 


How could I forget Uncle Ho?!?! Ho Chi Minh is called Uncle Ho in Vietnam. At first I thought it was rude to call him that but it is a term of endearment everyone uses. And here is the real creepy part ... he died in 1969 and they have preserved his body. I guess it is a Communist thing to do that. We went and saw his body and it was the weirdest  thing I've ever done while traveling. So so weird.  
Okay, friends! That is the min recap of those two places. 
If you have more questions about our trip or about any of the places we visited please feel free to ask. 

If you missed my recap about Malaysia and Singapore you can check it out right here. Those were my two favorite places in Asia. 
TEMPLATE BY PRETTYWILDTHINGS