Saturday, October 6, 2012

Paris with My Mom

It's official. I love Paris! After returning from my third trip to the beautiful city, it's confirmed! As most of you know, I went to Paris last week with my mom to take her to school. She is studying French at the Sorbonne for the next four months and I know she is going to have a wonderful time!

Our week together was so special. Mom's apartment is really cute, located in a very nice part of town. One day we went for a walk and within 15 minutes, we were at Notre Dame! Another time I wandered down another direction and happened upon one of the most beautiful parks I have ever seen in my life. It was amazing! There was a zoo, a green house and the most gorgeous flowers and plants. The walkway was lined with trees that practically touched the sky and hung over the road. It was breathtaking.

During my time there we visited three different cities that were just a train ride away from Paris.

Our first trip was to Rouen. This city was home to Joan of Arc. She was imprisoned and killed here in the 1400s. We went to the Rouen Cathedral, which was so beautiful. The impressionist painter Monet rented an apartment across the street from the cathedral and painted the church at varying times of day and in different seasons. Overall, he painted at least 30 depictions. While we were there, we went to the Musee Beaux-Arts, which had several impressionists paintings, including one of Monet's Rouen Cathedral paintings! It was neat! The streets of Rouen were cobblestone and there were several pedestrian streets that we wandered down. The buildings were hundreds of years old. It was amazing! I loved Rouen!

Our second trip was to Chartres. This day was an adventure because when mom and I got to the train station that morning, we had no idea where we were going. We had a Eurail pass, but unfortunately in France, the pass is not all it's cracked up to be. Most trips still require a reservation, so it was difficult to find cities that still had availability, especially on the same day. So, we ended up booking tickets for a few days later and then catching a train to the small town of Chartres which was just an hour away from Paris. Mom actually went to Chartres when she was in high school on a church choir tour around Europe. Her group sang in the Chartres Cathedral, so it was neat to go back there with her!

When we first stepped out of the train station, we saw a ferris wheel, so obviously we had to ride it! Then we went to the cathedral and the neatest part was that they were in the process of restoring the building and cleaning all of the marble. The part that they had finished was gorgeous! It was so neat to see this 12th Century church looking the same way as it did when it was first built! The grounds around the cathedral were also beautiful. Chartres also had many pedestrian streets and it was fun to shop around. I bought a beautiful teapot to add to my collection. It was a little pricey, but so worth it!! I love it! We also happened upon a motorcycle rally. I'm not sure what was going on, but it was entertaining.

Our final train trip took us to the eastern city of Strasbourg. This city is in the region known as Alsace-Lorraine and it is right next to Germany. My mom knows a little bit about her heritage through her birth mother and one of the things she knows is that her family was originally from this region. We aren't sure which city they lived in, but we know it was nearby. So, it was really neat to go here with mom and see a part of our heritage! We accidentally climbed 400 steps to the top of the cathedral (miscommunication that led to a beautiful view!) and we took a boat tour of the city that was really pretty! All in all, it was a neat place to see!

And, on top of all of that, we still found time to go around Paris! I went to visit the American Church of Paris with mom, which is where she plans to attend. It was neat to worship with fellow believers in France. I think only about 2% of the French population are Christians, and so this is obviously a very unreached country. It's amazing that it has some of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen, and yet there are so many there that don't know the Lord. It breaks my heart. I have been praying for opportunities for my mom to be able to share the Gospel with those she meets.

I also got to meet up with some of my DBU friends who were on a "Band of Brothers" trip around Europe. They were in Paris for a day, and we were able to meet up at the Eiffel Tower. I love being able to meet up with friends in different parts of the world! It's always neat when that works out!

My last day in Paris I spent strolling the streets around the Seine and taking in all of my favorite sites! My mom had orientation and so I decided I was just going to walk around the city. I went over to the Louvre (which is closed on Tuesday, in case you were wondering! I didn't know until I got there) and walked to the Tuileres garden. It was so pretty! I found a chair right by a fountain and in front of me was the Arc de Triumph, to the right was Sacre Coure, to the left was the Eiffel Tower and the Musee D'Orsay and behind me was the Louvre. It was magical! As I was sitting there, I was reading in a travel book that you could get into the Musee D'Orsay for free at 5 o'clock, because they close at 6, and it just happened to be 15 minutes until 5. So, I walked across the street and went right into the museum. They have the best collection of impressionist art anywhere in the world! I went to the newly remodeled wing and walked around, seeing paintings from my favorite artists. Then, I went back outside and strolled along the Seine and ended up at Notre Dame Cathedral. I went in and they were having mass. It was so wonderful. I didn't understand what they were saying, but it was such a beautiful time of worship. I serve a mighty God and I loved being able to worship Him in one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. Then, I grabbed a chocolate crepe and walked back to mom's apartment. It was perfect!.

I loved being in Paris with Mom and getting to spend a week with her! I am so excited about her adventure over the next few months! I know it's going to be unforgettable! We all miss her already, and it was hard to leave, but it was a great trip! I am so thankful God gave me the opportunity to go. Until next time, Au Revior!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Taking My Mom to School

Well friends, I'm two weeks away from my next adventure. I will be flying with my mom to Paris, France, to help her settle in for her semester-long studies. Many of you know that Mom has been working on her master's degree at UTEP. Well, she found a way to study abroad for the fall, which will provide her with the ability to intensely study the French language, culture, and history in a way that many of us would only dream about. I am so proud of Mom! She is so brave and driven and I can't wait to hear about all of her experiences! When Mom told me that everything had been approved and she would be officially going to Paris, I graciously volunteered to take her to school. She needed someone to go with her and help her get settled, and you know, I am willing to do that! :) Here is a link to my mom's blog if you want to read about her passion that has lead her to this journey.

So, we leave in a couple of weeks for Paris. We are going a few days before her program starts so that we can explore the French Riveria. Mom gave me my choice of where I would like to go within reasonable distance from Paris, and I chose the Cote d'Azure because I thought it would be neat to stay in France and see a new area. I've read that the beaches are gorgeous, the waters are crystal clear, the views are breath-taking, and the Old Town feel is like nothing else. We will spend a day in Marseilles, and then two days in Nice, with a day trip over to Monte Carlo. Then, we will be back in Paris for three days before I head back home.



I've never been to Paris in the fall (this will be my third trip to my favorite city, though). I can't wait to see what it looks like this time of year! And I am so excited about exploring Mom's new neighborhood and helping her figure everything out!

Mom will be there until the end of January, but she will have several visitors during her time away. Lorin is going to see her in December and then Dad is going for two weeks right after Christmas to celebrate their 30th anniversary. My friend Ashley is also going to visit Mom for a week in November. I know she is going to love showing each of us parts of Paris that she loves as she makes one of her favorite cities her home for a while. We are going to miss her so much, but we are all so proud of her and thankful that God has provided this awesome opportunity!

So, stay tuned! I plan to post a few times while I am away to share our stories. If you know me and my mom well, you know that great adventures are going to be had!

Our trip to NYC in January 2010

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Casas Por Cristo

My Spring Break this year was unlike any other that I've ever had. I didn't have the whole week off, but I did take Thursday and Friday off to fly to El Paso. I was blessed to work with a mission team from FBC Canyon  and members of my Dad's present church FBC El Paso to build a house in Juarez, Mexico. Click here to read my dad's blog about the team.

We built the two-room home for Ellie, a single mother who was about my age, and her three small children. They had been living with her parents in the house next door. Ellie had never had a home to call her own and was unable to afford to build one with her limited resources. The people from FBC Canyon raised the $5,000 to buy the supplies for the house and then came down during their break to help build it for this precious family through a ministry in Juarez called Casas por Cristo (Houses for Christ).

Now, I do not even pretend to know anything about building a house. I have no construction skills to my name. But, I came with a willing heart and able body to work with a team of skilled craftsmen who actually knew what they were doing. We started the project on Thursday morning. We met at the church at 6 a.m. and traveled about 20 minutes across the border to a suburb of Juarez called Anapra. While I have traveled quite a bit around the world, I have never been anywhere like this before. The streets were made of dirt. I was amazed that the homes were even standing. Some of them were poorly constructed and others had been worn down over time. The families in Anapra do not have much but what they do have, they are very willing to share. I cannot tell you how generous the family was that we worked with. The grandparents graciously opened their home to us and made us delicious food every day. The stood by and watched us work with great anticipation of the final results.

I also have to mention how gracious and kind the men were that we worked with. Jamie and I were two of three girls on the team. The other girl was Rachel, one of the team leaders, who had built more than 20 homes with Casas por Cristo and so obviously she knew what she was doing. Jamie and I had no clue. I cannot tell you how many times one of the men would come by and encourage us in our work. Many of the tasks we did were seemingly menial, but we were constantly told we were doing a good job and that what we were doing was so important. From sifting sand for hours to measuring 2x4s and sponging stucco, I learned a lot about how a house is built. But I also learned about hard work, the power of a smile, how to encourage one another, and what it means to humbly serve. The men we worked with were some of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I never heard a harsh word spoken on the site. While many of them did not even know each other when they started, they worked together so seamlessly to construct the home for Ellie and her children.

The sweetest moment on the trip for me was on Friday afternoon. The guys were putting stucco on the walls and then Jamie and I were tasked with following behind them and "sponging" the stucco to give it texture. While I was bent down working on a lower section, Ellie's three children and other precious little ones were seated just a few feet away carefully watching my every move. I could tell that they wanted to help, but had been instructed not to touch anything or be in the way. So, I grabbed an extra sponge and handed it to Valydia, the oldest daughter who is probably about 9 years old. I don't speak Spanish, but I showed her how to move the brush to help texture the wall. If I could do it, she could do it. So, she started working by my side, rotating the sponge just like I was. There were parts of the wall where the chicken wire was poking through, so I showed the little boys how to pick up some of the extra mud from the ground and patch the wall. You would not believe how carefully and precisely they followed my lead. They were beaming with pride when I would tell them "Bien or Si," the only Spanish I knew to encourage them in their efforts. Those children were so precious and it was an honor to work beside them to help build their home.

After the foundation was laid, the walls were raised, the roof was attached, the insulation put in, the dry wall was hung and the electricity was wired, the house was complete. Saturday we had the honor of dedicating the home. Several of the Canyon team members who had been working in El Paso and some of the wives were able to come over for the special ceremony. We handed Ellie keys to her new home, a Bible, and handmade gifts. And then, we prayed for her and her family. That God would work in their lives and that her house would become her home. Tears flowed as people expressed their prayers for this precious family. We were all truly humbled and honored to be a part of such a beautiful project.

 Dedication ceremony

 Ellie (holding a box) and her family

Jamie, me and Dad in front of the window we framed

 The team and Ellie's family

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Newsies: The Musical

When I was little, I fell in love, maybe for the first time, with a man named Jack (also known as a really young Christian Bale). He was a dreamer who loved Sante Fe and wanted to Seize the Day with his fellow newsies who were just trying to sell papes on the street and make a living. They loved to sing and dance and now, their dream (and mine) is coming true - those beloved Newsies are coming to Broadway and I get to see them!!!

Danielle and I just booked tickets last week to go and see this AWESOME show. I'm so excited, I can't even tell you! We're going at the end of April and are planning a weekend full of Broadway shows and good times! We are hoping to see a couple more shows while we are in town, we just haven't bought tickets yet. We're staying in a little hostel two blocks from Times Square and I know we are going to have a blast! I love New York, I love Broadway, I love Newies, I love my best friend! It's obviously going to be a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Say Yes to Life

I realize that it has been way too long since I last blogged (maybe 8 months? yikes!) and I don't have any good excuses. So, I'm just going to move forward! :)

The latest thing to happen to me was an awesome four-day weekend with two of my favorite Wisconsonites! Jen McT and Courtney (two of my best friends from high school ... remember that time I lived Up North a long time ago?) came to visit me and we had such an awesome time! We were very, very busy because I had a lot of things to show them!

Here are some of the highlights:

Dallas Day - Thursday

On their first full day in town, we became professional tourists of Dallas. We went to the Sixth Floor Museum and studied the conspiracy theories behind JFK's assassination (so intriguing!), we rode a free trolley through UpTown and saw all of these fun places I need to try, and we went to the Farmer's Market where we bought lots of yummy produce that we cooked with the rest of the time they were here. It was delicious!


This day I took Jen and Court to Sam Moon. If you haven't ever been here, you should go! It's a huge warehouse type building with every kind of accessory you can imagine. It's a girl's version of heaven on earth. Jen and Court were quite overwhelmed at first, actually they were speechless, which if you know them is hard to imagine. haha. But, they persevered and we spent probably 2 hours in the store perusing hats (I bought a fedora), jewelry, scarves, bags and more. It was great! Then we got lunch and some yummy fro-yo and headed over to DBU so they could see where I work and go to school. DBU is a gorgeous campus and I always love for people to see it! That night we took a chance on an unknown musical and ended up being pleasantly surprised. Bring It On: The Musical was everything we could have hoped for AND more! Danielle came with us and the four of us just grinned from ear to ear during the whole show. The songs were SO good! The dancing was awesome! The stunts were great! It was just fabulous! Seriously!

Fort Worth Day - Saturday

On Saturday, I took the girls to Cowtown. We toured the Stockyards, saw cows, visited lots of really cute shops and ate at the Internationally Famous "Cattleman's Restaurant." Then we went over to Sundance Square and walked around. It was a fun, laid-back day! That night we went to Chuy's, which is my favorite Mexican restaurant in town! It is so good! We laughed a lot and enjoyed our last night together. The girls left early Sunday morning. I was so sad to see them go, but so glad we got to spend some much needed time together! I'm so thankful for great friends and I loved showing them a new side of Texas! :) 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Over the Top!

This weekend I went to the Women of Faith "Over the Top" Conference in Dallas with my friend Becca. We had a great time. We weren't able to attend all of the sessions, but we really enjoyed the ones we were able to go to.

I will say this, I've never been in a place with SO many women at the same time before. It was a little overwhelming on Friday night. But a really sweet moment happened on Saturday morning. We were singing some praise songs with the worship team and I just got quiet for a minute and listened to all of the thousands around me raise their voices to the Lord. Gathering together in corporate worship, praising the same Lord was so beautiful. Our God is great! And I loved the opportunity to worship Him with fellow sisters in Christ from across the country. 

The first speaker that we heard was Lisa Whelchel on Friday night. She was in the show "The Facts of Life" back in the 1980s, which happened to be one of Becca's favorite shows ever. So, needless to say, she was pretty excited about it! Lisa shared a testimony about what she has learned about friendships and it was really touching. She shared stories from her life about struggles that she's had, and she was very open and vulnerable. I appreciated that about her. As she shared about struggles getting close to friends and maintaining strong friendships, I was reminded of some of the wonderful friends that I have been blessed with and was thankful for them as I sat and reflected. I truly think God blesses us with friends to share life with - to laugh with, to cry with, to be vulnerable with and to rely on. I really enjoyed Lisa's talk and the things I took away from it.

Then on Saturday morning, we got to hear Sandy Patti perform (she is a gifted artist!) and speak. Sandy shared about struggles in her life, with weight and other self-esteem issues and what it means to have new beginnings in your life. She has some great points to share and it was neat to see her in concert. She seems like a genuine, loving woman.

The highlight of the conference for me was seeing Amy Grant in concert that afternoon. I grew up listening to Amy, from the time I was a little girl. When I was in second grade, I entered the school talent show with my awesome dance to "Baby, Baby." Believe me when I say, I was a fan! So, when I saw her on stage, I reverted back to that little 6-year-old. Becca thought I was a little crazy, but I didn't care. I sang along to "El Shaddai," "It Takes a Little Time, Sometimes," "Lead Me on" and "My Father's Eyes." I loved it! This alone made the conference worth it.

There were also touching moments of testimony, moving dramatic pieces and more. I may have cried more than once. :)

While, I will admit, I felt a little young in the audience, I did enjoy the conference. It was a neat experience bonding with other women of faith as we laughed, cried and listened to how God is moving in the lives of others.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fun in the Summertime

This summer has been fun as I've enjoyed and explored this new city I call my home. I wanted to share some of the fun places that I've been to over the past two months:

The Sixth Floor Museum

My college friend Kate came to visit and we went to the 6th Floor Museum in Downtown. This is a museum dedicated to JFK and share insight into his assassination in 1963. You can even view the spot from the window looking down on the Grassy Knoll where it is believed that Lee Harvey Oswald stood when he shot JFK. Kate and I are secret history buffs and we loved learning more about this pivotal day in American history.

Fort Worth Botanical Gardens

My RA from college and dear friend Sarah Gardner got married at these beautiful gardens in June. It was such a precious ceremony and I loved getting to walk around these awesome gardens! I'd love to go back when it's a little cooler and explore some more!

Buca de Beppo

Last weekend we went to this really fun Italian restaurant as part of Cristal Moreno's bachelorette party! The food was delicious and the atmosphere was lively and entertaining! This was a great place to have a great time!

The Melting Pot

My HPU friends, affectionately known as "The Herd," try to get together at least once a year for a reunion so we can catch up on each others' lives. This year only four of us were able to meet up, but we still had a great time! We went to this really fun fondue restaurant called The Melting Pot in the Arlington Highlands and it was quite a treat. While the overall meal was a little on the pricey side, we enjoyed every minute of the four course meal! It was so laid back and fun as we enjoyed cheese fondue, salads, the biggest meat platter you can imagine and delicious chocolate fondue for dessert! To give you a good idea, we spent about 3 1/2 hours there and loved every minute! :)

Southlake Town Square

My sweet friend Larissa came to visit me from Brownwood one weekend and we found a really fun shopping area called Southlake Town Square. It's only about 15 minutes from my apartment and it is so much fun! We enjoyed roaming around in all of the cute shops and grabbing lunch. I could have spent a lot more time here! I'm looking to going back again sometime soon (maybe when I have more money, haha!).

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington

I also went to a Rangers game with Larissa and my Brownwood small group the weekend she came to town. While it was really hot, it was also really fun! I love the atmosphere at baseball games (shocking, I know!) singing "Take Me Out the Ballgame," eating nachos and people watching is a good time to me! Plus, the Rangers beat Toronto 12-2 that day! Go Rangers!

Well, these are just some of the highlights of the summer. There has been a lot more going on, but that's all I can think of at the moment. I'll try to keep highlighting fun things to do in the Metroplex for all of you friends that should come and visit me! I've got plenty of room in my apartment and I love company! And, obviously, I'm fun and Dallas is fun, so you should come visit! haha.