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. 

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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. 

11.23.2015

Penang Hill - Malaysia


Anything that involves a high up incredible view is something I want to do and lucky for me Penang Hill had both. 

Penang Hill, located on Penang island, is listed as the 6th most popular tourist attraction in the area. Personally, I'd ranker it much higher over some of the temples listed. 

I didn't get good pictures of the train ride going up but it is pretty steep and kind of fun. At the top of the hill there are incredible views of the city below. 

Not only do you get good views but there is a lot to do up top. There is a 'locks of love' bridge, which we didn't do. We did that once in Korea to appease my cheesy side and it was not Dave's favorite. There is also a Hindu temple and a Mosque if you are into seeing those. They have gardens all over, a restaurant and little walking paths. Another thing I thought was interesting is that they have cottage and bungalow styles of houses up there. These are there because Penang used to be a British colony so there are still some houses up there that the British had built. 

You can take the train down but we opted to hike down. The majority of the hike was down a steep road but it was fun just to be outdoors. We also spotted monkeys on our hike and we met a lot of friendly hikers. The hike down ends at the botanical gardens, which are free. 

The cost up the hill was $7.50 for both Dave and I. If you are traveling in Penang the 204 bus will take your right to the hill. Like most tourist attractions the earlier you arrive the better as most tourists aren't out early. 



Doesn't this look like Wall-e?


Locks of Love <3

11.18.2015

Thankful


T - Time
I'm grateful for this time Dave and I have right now to travel and not work. I realize that this is a huge blessing and I know that this season of time won't last forever so I'm cherishing it right now.

H - Husband
I'm thankful for Dave. Living abroad can be hard and this past year Dave has been a rock for me. He has been a listening ear, a laughing friend and has given me some godly and sound advice during hard times.

A - Aunt
I'm thankful to be an Aunt. The newest member of our family arrived on October 30th while we were in Malaysia. It's a girl and her name is Alba Ruth, named after both of the grandmothers, and she is just the sweetest thing.

N - New Beginnings
I'm thankful that as each chapter in our lives closes a new one begins. I'm looking forward to seeing what God will write in this new chapter.

K - Kids
I'm thankful for the kids I got to work with this past year. One kid in particular taught me a lot about life. Her name is Sweet and she knows no strangers, she gets a tissue and gives you a hug if you cry and she is everyone's friend. I hope to be more like that.

F - Friendships
I'm so thankful for friendships. I'm grateful I have a community of women that I can share anything and everything with.

U - U as in YOU
I'm thankful for you! I'm thankful that you read my blog and that you have walked through this past year with me. Your encouragement means a lot.

L - Lights
I'm so thankful for lights and for power. The power in Myanmar wasn't consistent and I never before thought to be thankful that lights actually come on when I hit the switch.


What are you thankful for today, friend?

I'm linking up with Kiki for the wonderful Circle Linkup. Interested to know more? Just click on the button below.

11.17.2015

Happy Birthday, Mom!


Happy Birthday, MOM! 

Today is my Mom's birthday and this post is dedicated to her. 

We took this fun sign with us to Malaysia and Singapore and took as many fun pictures as we could. We hope that you have a very happy birthday! 

Love you lots!  

Malaysia 


Singapore 

 
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