Category Archives: Faith

Being exactly where you are.

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My best moments of “thinking” come in the shower.

I realized this last week…when I was running. When I work out I am always thinking about everything that I need to get done. I’m jealous of those of you who see working out as a time of stress relief. This is what happens in my head when I work out:

“OK, I need to wash the dishes when I get home, make cookies, and shower. What will I teach tomorrow? My kids better listen. Tomorrow is Tuesday… will we be going out for dinner? Where will Tom want to eat? What’s our plan for the weekend? How are my sisters doing. Gosh, they are getting big. Only 67 days until I see them and get to HUG them. Will they be taller than me? Man that’s a long plane ride home. I wonder what book I will want to read on the plane. This past weekend was incredible. Korea is gorgeous.” (looking at the ocean or the mountains) and then I let out a scream (after my second time of almost getting hit by a car.)

…but when I am in the shower. All is silent except for the rushing sound of the water going over my ears. It’s my time. It’s the time during the day where I get to reflect, pray, think. There is no music blaring, I am not talking, No kids screaming. It’s still. The steam fills our ridiculously tiny Korean bathroom, and it’s still silent.

When I am laying in bed at night-  I am thinking about the next day.

When I am working out- My mind gets lost in my task list.

First thing in the morning- my brain is sifting through things I need to remember for the day.

– I tend to worry a lot, and it’s the time in the shower I feel God saying to me “Just. Slow. Down.”

Be right where you are. Right now. Just breathe.

I want to be the girl who listens, and not just listens, but listens well. The girl who can push back the worry or all the thoughts consuming my brain space, and just LISTEN. I always take notice of the people who listen well. Who give me their undivided attention. Responding appropriately with valuable input. I remember the teachers who went the extra mile, the friends who make the effort, and the people who just simply listen with hearts ready to receive.

I want to be that for others.

I want to be right where I am. Right now. 120%

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Faith in Korea

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Being a Christian in Korea. Wow, It’s been a journey. The hardest part for me in the beginning was missing our church from Wisconsin…the bible study, the fellowship, Sunday mornings at church. God has continued to remind me that he is every where, and not just America. I see it everyday in the people I meet, the life/jobs we are so lucky to have, the beauty of the country, the kids I teach, and the incredible friends we have made in Korea. Since arriving in Korea I feel like it took time to get settled…Time to find our “groove” if you will. I mean, we just got our apartment decorated for goodness sake. Ya know? It takes time. Time. I feel like God taught me patience in moving to Korea. Just to slow down and take time to continue to grow our faith in him. Time to set up and establish ourselves here at church, and now a new bible study we were invited to join. My faith in humanity has also been restored from the people we have met in Korea, and also those we have met while traveling. It’s crazy how visiting temples and mosques in Malaysia has strengthened my faith in God, but, it really has. I think back to us standing on the stairs of the famous Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur and closing my eyes and just praying that the people of the world would some how feel in some way feel God’s love.

In Korea, we are free to worship freely- so often something that I take for granted. Upon arriving at my new job people blatantly asked “what religion are you?” ,and my kids have seen my cross necklace that’s resulted in stumbling through conversations on being a christian, but what I really want people to know is this:

I want people to notice something different about me and ask what makes me different. I want to show the world that a christian can be someone who just loves them regardless of who they were or the mistakes they have made. That I am not going to judge them or disrespect them because they have different beliefs. I want to show them that God is (just like my grandma once told me) Love and Forgiveness. I want to love people from their darkest moments of despair. I want to love people so I can tell them that it isn’t me… it’s God. I want to love them so they see Jesus. When I say I am blessed I mean that God has blessed me incredibly beyond what I deserve.

Have you felt God’s love in a certain way as of lately?

There is so much I want to say I just haven’t decided how I want to say it.

For now though my faith in Korea has been a journey, but a blessed one. One that has brought me closer to my husband. One that’s made me absolutely cherish our amazing friends we have made in Korea. One that’s made me want to love love love and also to forgive. Korea has been a place where I have been able to see God in big ways, and each day… I just want to show people what faith in God can do.

I want to be love and forgiveness just like my grandma once told me. I’ll never forget that.

 

Love and Forgive.

Suncheon Retreat Weekend

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The weekend of July 13th Tom and I were invited by our good friends Cory and Michelle to go on a church retreat weekend in Suncheon. We had no idea what to expect, but it was a fabulous weekend! Suncheon is a city about 45 minutes by bus from Yeosu.

We pulled up to this awesome place surrounded by LOTS of nature and the mountains! There was even an outdoor pool which is pretty rare in Korea… the first we have seen since we have moved here in April. We spent time outside in the pool relaxing, and cooling off from the heat!

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Outdoor pool!

Outdoor pool!

Followed by a delicious dinner of fresh chicken (and I mean fresh)

From pen to table. Literally!

From pen to table. Literally!

Cute tables on the little creek!

Cute tables on the little creek!

Dinner outside near the creek.

Dinner outside near the creek.

Dinner

Dinner

…and a great message from a member of their church on trusting God’s plan for us. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

The morning was followed by Cory’s message on worrying. Focusing on Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

It was a wonderful weekend, and great reminder for me to refocus on God. Being in Korea has been a huge blessing for both Tom and I! We have an English speaking church service in Yeosu that we have attended twice, but have been traveling every weekend so it was really great to spend a weekend where we were reminded of God’s love for us, and being able to connect with other christians.

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If I could have you over for coffee…

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If I could have you over for coffee…

You would see that my Korean apartment is definitely Korean, but the smallness of it has actually become our “new normal” and there is something to be said about living with only what you need.

The apartment would look clean. There is a 99% chance that it would be, but that isn’t because of me. I would tell you right away that the credit goes to my husband. If you came over on the 1% chance that it was dirty…it wouldn’t bother me a bit. I would assume you understand that life happens.

If I could have you over for coffee I would want to know more about you, your day, your struggles, what makes you happy, and what makes you sad.  You would find out real quick that I really don’t like small talk for very long, but that I love hearing stories. I love hearing ideas, thoughts, desires, and dreams.

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If you and I had coffee- there wouldn’t be a shortage of talking…because although I am learning to listen more. I still love to talk. I love to connect, but I also know when to stop.

I would definitely want to talk about my faith as a christian, but I would  be scared to offend you. I would probably want to build a friendship first so that I could tell you more about the best part of who I am, and why I am. If I could have you over for coffee I would tell you that when I say I am blessed it means that GOD has blessed me..and I am most certainly undeserving of it all.

I would tell you about marriage, my husband, and how we don’t know where life will take us in 5 years, but that the thought of that excites me. I would probably tell you that  I just finished the book And The Mountains Echoed ,and how I loved it. I would want to know if you read, and what you are reading.

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I would want you to know that just because I ran 2 marathons and because my genes have made it impossible to gain weight doesn’t mean I am in shape AND that I actually struggle to motivate myself to get out, and run. I would be proud to tell you that I am finally following through with a daily workout, and man it feels GOOD!

If I could have you over for coffee…

I’d want to know:

What you are most grateful for?

When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?

and this.

If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

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Making it our own.

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Making it our own.

Happy Monday to all of our family and friends back home!

This past weekend was simply delightful. We are feeling so blessed to have friends here from Wisconsin, and also to have met new friends that we felt like we connected right away with and who became our first visitors in our new apartment in Yeosu. We randomly met Corey and Michelle in Mokpo while visiting friends from Wisconsin who are teaching in Korea. We invited them to come to check out Yeosu and they came this past weekend! Our highlights were hiking Gubong Mountain (the mountain my school is on!)  visiting the beach, riding “rail bikes” (bikes literally on an old railroad!) that went through a cool tunnel, and of course plenty of great conversation ,and awesome company.

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Start of the hike

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Beautiful view of our city from near the top of our hike!

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Lovin our new friends 🙂

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Planking on Gubong Mountain!

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Boys at the beach skippin rocks. Boys will be boys 🙂

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Gotta have the cute kiddo picture. They were having a blast in the water!!!

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On the Rail bikes near the ocean

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heading into the tunnel under the mountain 🙂 SO fun

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Loving life!!!

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On Sunday… We went to a Korean Church service…in Korean! Tom’s co worker invited us to go, and we felt we should. It was interesting, but most of it I didn’t really know what was going on since it was in another language. The people (as always) were SO kind to us. Then, Tom got sick. Which resulted in him resting. I made the trek over by taxi in the afternoon to the only English speaking church in our city. It was so lovely. A small group of some Koreans, and some foreigners gathered to worship. It was so fabulous to feel apart of a church again as we are missing our church from the states! Tom will be excited to join me next weekend at the English speaking church. After church I grabbed coffee with some pretty sweet gals from church at..wait for it.. STARBUCKS!!!!!!! It was an awesome treat. It is the only Starbucks in Yeosu. Sunday night resulted in a trip to the hospital since Tommy is sick. 😦  Very interesting experience to say the least as we don’t speak much Korean, and they spoke just a tiny bit of English. Thank goodness for being able to use the hospital phone to call my co teacher so she could translate… since, we don’t have phones yet.

Today it was back to teaching! It was hard to say goodbye to the weekend as it has been absolutely BEAUTIFUL weather here! We are excited this weekend to hopefully camp with our friends, pending Tom feels better of course!

I will leave you with a video of three of my lovely students dancing to Psy’s new song “Gentlemen” a pretty big deal over here:

https://vimeo.com/65561222

How could I not love teaching when I have these kids? I can’t help, but smile! As always, feeling blessed beyond words.

Little things and love

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I have a bucket list prepared for the next year that I want to start in April.

The more I thought about it though…the more I realized before I start working on that hefty list there are a few things I want to change first. I mentioned before I am being more “intentional.” And I am… slowly…but as my husband would say describing me I am an “all or nothing girl” which (let me digress briefly here) has its upsides. When I am happy… I am the most easily excitable, enthusiastic, giddy person. When I am sad I feel really, really sad. Although I do enjoy these qualities about myself sometimes I think that my life heart rate monitor would look like something similar to the Andes Mountain range. I’d like to think the average human’s life heart rate monitor screen looks like something more of a calm ocean…on a steady beat. Nope, not this girl. I come at life and then sometimes it comes back at me and slaps me in the face. I will dedicate and give you ALL of my passion, enthusiasm, and put my heart and soul into whatever it is I am pursuing or passionate about. There is no half effort with this personality. I like to “get shit done”, and promptly if possible. Anyways, I digress to note that my “all or nothing” quality does present its challenges. People easily disappoint me, because I have exceptionally high expectations of others when it comes to relationships, and those I love. As a result of my personality I admittedly am pretty darn opinionated, and quick to judge as there is no gray area in my mind: it is black or it is white. Patience is something I remind myself every single day to practice.

One of my professors in college once told me “Elicia, your biggest flaw is that you are too hard on yourself… So, you didn’t get an A, so what. It’s over. Let it go” I never forgot what he wrote on my speech outline. I later met with him to discuss how his honesty had impacted me. Trust me there were plenty of grades that weren’t A’s in college, and I learned quickly I would rather be a happy, involved, multi-tasking, volunteering college student than a straight A student. Ok ,back to this whole being intentional thing. I have to learn that it takes time. The best of changes take time. That is a struggle for me because I want it..and I want it NOW!

So, some things I am working on right now that take time.

Eating intentionally– meaning no strict rules on diet. Just being aware. Educated. Informed. I find the more I eat of fresh foods like fruit and veggies. The less I crave of snacks like pretzels, oreos, chips, and other processed crap.  I find fresh food and anything NOT processed gives me good energy as well as making me feel much more alert throughout my day.

Running again- It has been a long time since I have truly loved running. I don’t do it to lose weight or keep weight off. I do it for many reasons, but some being that I want a healthy heart and healthy organs. I want to push myself to the limits, but also if I feel like taking the time to stop and enjoy scenery- to do so.

Less Media– more of real people. How many times does your house fit in Kim Kardashian and Kayne West’s mansion? Lindsay Lohan back living in her teenage bedroom, report says. Eva Mendes departing on a flight at LAX…

Seriously? Give me something real FOX news. Give me people who have a passion and dedication to helping others. Like this:  http://www.kscholarshipfund.org/

Or this: http://dovemissions.org

Or this: http://www.raccfund.org/RACC/Home.html

Give me love, and give me life, but Fox news I don’t give 2 craps about celebrities. So knock it off.

-Cheers, to being a better individual. I think that starts with love. Little things…and love.

“Plans”

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Our world is so big. I can’t wait to see more of it.

Tonight, I feel so blessed. I have the best husband. I brag about him a lot. Through all of the crazy things life will throw at us I feel just a bit better knowing I will have him by my side. I read today that “in a marriage you both can’t crumble at the same time…you have to wait your turn.” This made me laugh and cry at the same time. Just thinking about our first 5 months of marriage when I have a bad day Tom takes care of me. When he comes home fighting mad… I try to lift his spirits. Give and Take. There will come a day when I feel like I have nothing to brag about or hardships we will be faced with, but sometimes I need a simple reminder that my life is pretty amazing despite how sometimes even a cloudy day can turn my mood sour.

Here is the reality. I didn’t get the job I had “planned” in my head after college. I didn’t finish college in 4 years like I “planned” when I started it. I haven’t backpacked through Europe like I “planned”, or moved to Africa to live in a hut. I didn’t have a massive wedding in a castle like I “planned” when I was a little girl with 300 guests. I hate cooking most days, I really hate proof reading and editing (which is why I don’t do it on my blog)…and sometimes I forget to floss. My life isn’t completely “planned” and organized.

but if life worked out like I “planned” how boring would it be? I mean, really… if I finished college in 4 years I wouldn’t have been able to study abroad and see the world the way I see it now. If I had a wedding in a castle with 300 people I would have wasted thousands of dollars (and well that was just a dumb idea to start with.) I haven’t backpacked through Europe just yet, but we have way cooler plans now. My plan. See, I just did it again. We humans love to plan. I seriously, think God looks down and just laughs at me and my planning.

My life is pretty great. I love it… and the best part is that every single day no matter how my day is or if I love my life or not: God has loved me all along despite my non existent cooking or my desire and need to try to control and “plan” out my life.

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Learning to be the light.

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I have often been asked why I blog. What is my goal? Do I think that I will get famous from this? (Yes, I have been asked these exact questions!!)

Well let me try to explain:

Awhile back I received a very encouraging message from a friend who told me that my writing had in some way impacted her…enough to send me a personal message. Even though it was a short message…enough was said for me to realize that our actions impact far beyond just ourselves. That folks is the very reason that I blog. I feel that if I can share pieces of my heart, who I am, and let people into my life for even just a fleeting moment, and if some how, in some way, I can help one person even just for a second via my blog… it means the world to me.  Really, it does. Blogging is a way for me to share who I am, and sometimes that isn’t always easy. As a human we each have doubts and insecurities and wonder what people will think of us if we really share who we are. I am here to tell you I am not perfect, I make mistakes all the time, but I am real, and this is me, and however you ended up on this page I hope some how you understand that our paths crossed for a reason.

January 1st 2013 brought a new year. I couldn’t help, but hear about all of the new years resolutions. In a world so consumed with media and appearance   it is so easy to forget what the new year should mean. Well, what should it be about? Today in church our pastor (pastor Hunter—he married us) delivered a really powerful message to me. It hit home. He spoke about how we should be a light for Christ. “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed, Instead he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light… “(Luke 8 Verse 16) So often we are told that religion is private. Our pastor reminded us today that Faith is personal, but never private. We should live our lives so that at work, and with every relationship we have people stop and ask “what makes you different?” and I should be able to confidently simply say: because my identity is in Christ. I will be the first to admit that as a young adult that can be pretty scary. What if they think I am a freak? What if they feel awkward? What if they hate what I have to say?

Today it was confirmed that my word for 2013 is going to be: Listen. Luke chapter 8 goes on in verse 18 to say” Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him” So what is going to help me listen more closely? Our pastor made a really great point today: my relationship with God is either engaged and moving forward …or not. There is no in-the-middle. There is no” half” being a christian around my God loving friends, and then being a different person around those who I am unsure of believing in God.

Standing up for what you believe in can sometimes be scary.What if they think I am a freak? What if they feel awkward? What if they hate what I have to say? …but what if I make a difference? What if I stir up something bigger inside of them that has been there all along. What if I can help them?

I am willing to take that risk.

Are you?

partor hunter and karen

Here I am with some incredible human beings. My husband- who teaches me to listen more and speak less. Pastor Hunter and his wife Karen who are an inspiration of love and kindness. Humble, generous, and loving are words that come to mind when I think of them. Their identity is in Christ and it’s amazing how God uses them to help others.

Learning to be the Light

More about me…less about you. The American way.

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I’d like to start out this post with this disclaimer:I will be the first to admit (my husband will strongly disagree I admit anything) that I have flaws. I have many. I don’t do things right, I mess up, and I am just about as human as human gets when it comes to messing things up. I do it just about everyday.

I have wanted to post this blog for about a week, but haven’t made time to do it. So here I am…finally saying what I have wanted to say. Why does it seem like the American way has become more and more selfish? Why does it seem like the American dream is buying a mansion, having a nice vehicle, and owning anything and everything they can get their hands on? MORE stuff. BETTER stuff.  When did we fall away from the idea of working together as a community and helping others out? Why do we want, want, want and seem to give less of our time and resources to others? It might not just be America in fact I am sure that it isn’t, but I have traveled across the world to live in a village where love was all they needed. Love of family, community, and God. I have never met more Godly people then I did in a village where they had nothing. Why were they astonished to find out that we could live our whole lives not knowing our neighbors on a personal level? Why did this village sacrifice so much of their self for others, but have nothing to give except love?

We live in a really sinful world. We do. We also live in a really beautiful world, but sometimes it seems like I have to look so hard to find what is beautiful and pure in a world that we live in. Even if you are reading this and you don’t believe in God it doesn’t take long to see or hear of all the terrible things happening in our world and sometimes closer to home then we would like. I don’t have the answers to all of these tough questions other then I wonder how it got to be this bad. Tom reminds me we deserve nothing. We are sinful humans. I too, fall into the trap saying well I DESERVE this. I worked HARD for this. No, actually we deserve a life in hell, but because Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we are forgiven. No matter what people or the media try to say. Remind yourself that: we deserve nothing. I think that if we all did there would be more love, more kindness, and less of me..more of him.

Another point I’d like to make tonight is that when you strongly believe in something please don’t attack others for their beliefs. Love. is. the way.Make people feel loved. Listen more, talk less. Ask questions about their life. Have an intellectual conversation and show them you CARE. I have often left conversations thinking…Wow, they talked all about themselves, didn’t ask about me, or felt attacked for what I believed in. I have had to bite my tongue and not say a word.  (For those of you who know me know that is a huge step!)

Again, I’d like to say… I am not perfect. I make mistakes (a lot of them) every single day. What I do know though, is that because of the situations I have been in I have learned to love more, complain less, and listen. You should too 🙂

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income… As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?”

Ecclesiastes chapter 5

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

Matthew Chapter 5

Here are some simple things that I have thought were beautiful lately. (I could post a lot more!! and I will!! later though)

Fall, in our yard.Image

ImageMy husband raking in the yard.. (Don’t mind the fact that we got in a fight about raking and how I was not doing a good job helping right after this happy picture was snapped. Yup, I didn’t want to rake I just wanted to take pictures… I told you I wasn’t perfect! I just NEEDED this picture.

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Winter is coming. Not that I am excited about that…but I AM excited that it will be our first Christmas together. AND we get to buy a real tree if I can convince Tom to go cut one down with me. He thinks I might be crazy when I said I wanted a sleigh ride out to a field where we can chop and haul or own tree… I can have my cake and eat it too, right?

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The fact that I always complain that he doesn’t “love me” enough. Ok, I know he does. Obviously, he married me. Then one day I went into the bathroom and he did this all by himself on the mirror. OK!!! HE LOVES ME!!!! I have proof. So, whenever I get cranky I can go look at this again.

ImageTom doing push-ups with these special kiddos in my life. My sisters are growing up way way way to fast. So here this past weekend I needed to document Tom doing push ups with them on his back because it won’t be long until he can’t do that anymore.. unless he wants to throw out his back. 🙂

There are a lot more very special people in my life.. and over the holidays I plan to snap some pictures of EVERYONE in my family that I can post. 🙂

Anyways,

God first. Others second. Me LAST… 

Isaiah 41:10..Today.

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Today, Isaiah 41:10 speaks to my heart pretty clearly. It’s the 25th day in October two thousand and twelve. Today all over the world babies will be born, loved ones will die, and somewhere someone will experience the most exciting day or their life thus far…while someone else perhaps on the other side of the world is contemplating taking their own life.

I was thinking the other day about happiness and like most days death had crossed my mind. Crazy right? Death and Happiness. Two topics that really don’t quite go together especially when we are left behind in this world to anticipate what heaven might be like. It’s quite a miracle that not only I was born and survived, but that I have survived in life this far. We are, but tiny ants in this massive world. Here for a fleeting moment and gone. I like to think of our time here on earth as a vessel onto the everlasting life in heaven. I am constantly worried about my loved ones and even when Tom leaves for work each morning I shout out right before he closes the door “DRIVE SAFE..and I LOVE YOU.” He probably feels like I am the crazy wife, but I don’t care. I don’t want to loose him and somehow I feel like my little reminder somehow may change God’s plan (silly me.) Trust me, I am not someone who takes life for granted if I can help it. I know our lives here are so precious, so fragile, and so short. People make mistakes, crazy things happen, and God takes us on his time NOT ours. I always just pray for one more day with my husband and although I know God hears me.. I also know he knew our destiny long before we were even created. How does one balance all of that out?!

Isaiah 41:10 says “Do not be afraid for I am with you. Do not be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and keep you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Clearly, our instructions are laid out in just a few sentences. Simple and clear. Shouldn’t it be easy? Do you struggle with doubt, worrying, or becoming easily discouraged? I know I do. I do everyday. I am the biggest worrier of worry warts. I do it because I care and I love those around me. I have such a mother’s heart even though I am not a mom yet. I love my husband and I never ever want to live without him. I have a feeling someday when I have my own kids that feeling will be multiplied by about 1000.

My pastor posed the question “What do we put before God?” Was there someone or something that we couldn’t live without? Being recently married my answer popped into my head immediately. So often we are caught up in our own world and the worry of the day we forget that our God is SO much bigger than any doubt or worry we have. Although, I never want anyone I love to die that’s just not reality… Life is short. Life is precious and Heaven is so much better then we could ever imagine.

So while I continue to worry worry worry about those in my life I love. I will sit here and continue to read over Isaiah 41:10 and seek God above all else. God blessed me (and also YOU) with beautiful human beings who make us better Christians…if it wasn’t for him they wouldn’t have existed in the first place. Never take time for granted. Tell someone how much they mean to you today…and someday we will all party up in heaven together.

Gods blessings on your today,

e