It’s been awhile.

Sitting in my dashboard are drafts I started six months ago while backpacking through Europe. Drafts I couldn’t finish when we got home because it seemed like the moment had passed.

But with the new year comes new goals and one of them is to write here more often. Another is to drink a green smoothie once a week. Another to go on plenty of adventures.

Ultimately, though, I want to grow. With what’s ahead and with this quote in mind, I think I’m off to a good start. Bring it on, 2015.



So many thoughts going through my head right now. Like how we saw Stonehenge today. Like how tomorrow we head to Ireland. Like how I’m super bad (and behind) at this whole blogging thing.

Yesterday we decided to take a much needed down day. Six weeks straight of travel — though awesome — isn’t sheer bliss. I’m not going to lie, I miss my bed. I miss lazy Saturdays. I may even miss the mundane of going to work (what?!). So we spent a good half of yesterday crouching over our own devices on the bottom bunk of our muggy hostel room bed.

Stifling heat forced us outside later that afternoon. We walked and talked for hours along the side of a picturesque canal that ran through town. Like most good conversations, ours was full of tangents, thought-provoking theories and tough topics that eventually led me to admit this:

A lot of people say they grow closer to God in their trials, but if anything, I feel further away from Him. I feel like I’m supposed to be learning something, but what? When I pray for answers or direction, I feel like I get silence. And frankly, if God doesn’t want to talk to me, I don’t want to talk to Him either.

It’s not something I’m proud of, or even something I want to admit. But in the shadows, in those weak moments, it’s where my thoughts go.

Fast forward a few hours later. I stumble across this:

An amazing, humbling story in and of itself. But minute 5:15? Meant for me.

My faith isn’t perfect. There’s a lot I don’t know or understand. But I do believe God exists. I believe He wants what’s best for me. And even though I get impatient, I know He knows better than me.

What I’ve Learned (So Far) While Traveling Through Europe

Peak out the window before you head out for the day. Looks like rain? Bring an umbrella. Doesn’t look like rain? Bring an umbrella.

The best lighting — sans crowds — is at 6 a.m., when only locals and small pockets of all-nighters roam the streets.

Carry coins. Toilets aren’t free, you silly American.

Attending a choral performance or free Evensong beats wrestling the crowds at famous cathedrals any day.

You don’t need a photograph of everything.

Shop at a grocery store for breakfast and lunch; splurge on dinner.

Trust your gut. If you have no reason to suspect trouble except for the way you feel, go with the way you feel and get out.

24/7 is a long time to spend with one person, even if you love him or her. Learn to say you’re sorry and get on with it.

You will experience so much more of the city if you hire a bike rather than take the metro.

If it sounds like a scam, it is.

You aren’t too cool for city tourist offices. They have free maps!

The Golden Arches are the international symbol for cheap food and clean toilets.

The most memorable moments are usually the ones where your plans go wrong.

Not As I Had Planned

This morning I was reading through my China journal, trying to remember a detail for a blog post I was writing about visiting Beijing on a Budget. Of course this led to lots of reminiscing, and then, naturally, tears when I read this:

On the bike ride back I just rode silently, humbled, as I accepted the realization that sometimes things honestly have to go wrong just so we’ll be in a certain place at a certain time. That the Lord knows me very personally—He knows what I don’t— and will bless me despite my bad attitude. That with a better attitude, that [bad] day with a great ending could’ve been a great day with a great ending. I’m learning.

After a long day of everything going the wrong way, I was just about done. It was nearly nightfall and Lance and I were finally on the bikes we’d searched for all day, only realizing we had to turn around to return them before it got too dark. My plans, oh my wonderful, detailed plans, had been dashed. Frustrated, tired and achingly aware of my inability to change the situation, I remember even feeling annoyed that I was so annoyed. We rode on, and took an unplanned route back to the bike rental station. On this new rode we spotted a few recognizable sights from months before, when we’d walked the same street with the China Horizons tour group we came to China with. Then, there, several yards in front of us stood two friends — American teachers from a group we trained in Hong Kong.

Beijing, American friends

I doubt they knew how meaningful that hour-long reunion was for me. Not only was I distracted from the problems of our day, but I was renewed in a way I hadn’t been in a long time. I think it’s natural to be affected by a bad day, or a bad situation. I think it’s normal to mourn unmet expectations and feel the natural emotions that come from life’s trials, large or small. But, I want to remember the feelings I had after that chance meeting, the ones of recognition that sometimes things go differently than planned, and yet life still works out in the end.