Learning to Examine

A couple of years ago one of my friends told me that she had started practicing the Examine. I was intrigued. I loved the idea, I have worked on developing the habit of Examine myself.

For the past 2 years I have felt like I am in a funk. I am easily irritated and prone at times to view all things with a glass half empty mindset. What was lacking was perspective. I need to remember WHO HE IS, and to live in response to the grace he daily gives.

It is easy to feel lost and overwhelmed navigating 3 cultures. A day can slip by and the things he does for me may go unnoticed. I want to put an end to that. I want to pay attention.

Examine is a call to do just that. To stop and be mindful of the Lord. It causes you to take notice of the ways he has blessed you. Thanksgiving is a natural response. When I start the day out planning to see him in my daily going ons…I do.

Wind becomes a reminder of his invisible ways, the sun is like a kiss. Every little thing becomes a gift. It offers a change of perspective. When I practice the Examine at night it gives me a chance to check my heart. Why did I respond a certain way to things. It allows me to really review my emotions.

Here are a few questions that help.

During which moments did I feel God’s presence?

Did I miss any opportunities to be a light for Christ?

Are there things I could have handled differently?

Was I grace filled?

Did I act out of pride or envy?

What were the high and low points of my day?

This is a great time of reflection and prayer. A chance for  be still and know that the Lord is God. A chance to plan to improve the next day. I believe developing this habit will be a blessing to anyone who takes the time to do it.

I am still at the beginning of this. I am expectant that the Lord will bring about great growth and renewal of spirit the more I practice it.

Here is a graphic you can pin or print out to help you get started.

The Examine


What are some things that help you to Examine the state of your heart?


Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas

Don’t be Afraid to Boldly Live your Beautiful Song!

velvet ashes, expat living, rhythm, song

My husband and I returned Monday morning from a quick trip to the States. It was fast and eventful. The trip took me out of my routine. My life rhythm. I was without my kids on the other side of the ocean for the very first time. It felt weird and nice all at the same time. It was like a hearing the remix of beloved a song for the first time. Everything was familiar and out of step at the same time.

Isn’t that how life is for us abroad? A beautiful mixture of the familiar and the foreign? Foods are combined in a unique way, but we kind of love it. Things seem out-of-place and intriguing all at the same time.  Our lives are a series of rhythmic patterns working together to create a unique song. We say hello, we learn, we grow, we say goodbye, and we adapt. We are drawn to others whose lives share a similar rhythm. We cherish the moments when someone else “gets it”, we love watching our kids connect with other Third Culture kids. It is one of the few things that makes us feel at home.  Together Our songs create the world’s most unique song book.

This is the blessing of Velvet Ashes. A place to connect where you recognize a rhythm, one similar to your own. A place where you realize you are not alone. It is like a concert a collection unique, beautiful and endearing.

We should celebrate it. We should never be afraid to sing our songs. The rhythm created by constantly navigating cultures creates some of the worlds most beautiful melodies. I am proud to be a part of it. So should you. Next time you feel worn out from decisions, language, travel or cultural stress. Think of the beautiful song your life is creating.

What rhythmic patterns in your life stress you out? Which ones surprise and bless you?


I am linking up here today:

Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas

Losing Mentors

The beginning of September marks 2 years since the sudden death of one of our Mentors. I am still shocked about what a spin it threw me into emotionally and spiritually. I still think about it all the time and feel honestly kinda silly that it affected me in such a way. It kinda turned my world upside down. I have thought about it again this week, not only because of the date but also because of a study.

You may or may not do not know I have been a leader in Europe for The Hello Mornings Challenge for a few years. Our current study Relentless is taking us through the book of Judges. I wish I could go back in time and say a few things to myself. This kinda lead me into a downward spiral. Before Joshua dies he gives this advice. He tells them to BE very strong to keep and do the things that the LORD says. He reminds them to cling to the Lord as they had up until that time. I wish I would have thought of that. I allowed myself to dwell on the sadness, disappointment and perceived injustice of it all. A few months later another Mentor died and I started throwing a grown up temper tantrum in my heart. I DID NOT cling to the Lord. I hid, I cried, I shut down I lost interest and generally became a spectator of sorts in my life.

be strong, cling to God

These words from Joshua are both wise and encouraging. Be very strong. We all know there are times in our lives when we just feel we don’t have strength. In those times of weakness the Lord proves that He is our strength. We need to show we trust him by standing up and giving our best effort to stand strong. Where we fail he excels. Then he says DO ALL that the Lord says. When our humanness gets in the way we tend to let important things slide. We lose sight of having time to pray, praise and fill our souls with wisdom from the Lord. We lean on our human understanding (Prov. 3:5-6) and try to find fulfillment in things the world offers like food, entertainment, toxic relationships and negative self talk.  I am guilty of stress eating, mindless TV watching and a bad attitude. I camped out in some of these areas for almost 2 years. No More!

I am standing up and walking on. I am moving forward and standing firm in my weakness trusting the Lord to prove himself once again as strong. I know that he who began a good work in me will see it to completion. I just need to get out-of-the-way and set my posture to praise.

I realize that it has been a while since I have blogged. I kinda felt that I need to explain why. So there you have it the truth. I hope you will stick around as I get back into the swing of things. There are so many things changing in our lives and I look forward to sharing my journey with you.

If you took time to read this comment below so I know you stopped by.


Hope Deposits

hope, difficult times,Why do bad things happen?

That is an age old question…

Why does God save some but not others when…

Why is evil running so rampant?

When God allows miracles, healing (cancer), rescue from bad circumstances, and the return of the lost in our lives.  We see him at work all the time in the middle of hard things.

When I listen to, read and hear the news it is often overwhelming. Just this week here are the things that have caught my attention. Think about all that has happened in Charleston. What a sad situation. It makes me think how have we returned again to this kind of hate?  The accidental running over of the members of the Austrian synchronized swimming team, so shocking. There seems to be a rise on racial violence, and the war in Ukraine seems unending. So much hate, death and sadness.

We don’t really know why some die and others are healed. God alone knows that.

What we do know is that he is always restoring, renewing and changing all things. We know that his plan is for us to have the kind of life and home he created us for. We were created to live in harmony with him, in Paradise I might add. So when we see the healing, renewal and and sanctification of lives he does it gives us a taste of what we were meant for.

In this sick, dying world the healings, rescues and transformations we see are a foretaste of the home he prepares for us. That is why every revelation we have of who he is is so special. This is what makes our testimonies so powerful. When you share your story you deposit hope. You allow someone a glimpse into the Fathers heart.

How can you give hope to someone today? How can your story reveal the Father?
His plans are for good.

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

This is often hard to see in a world so full of evil. Take heart and know that he plans for us to have a future, hope is his business. We can’t escape the evil of this world but we can focus on the hope we have in him to survive it!

I Am Taking My Body Back!!!

Ha! I know that sounds funny. For the past several years I have been in what seemed to be a continuous cycle of pregnancy, nursing, recovery repeat. Well. For the past year I have been in the habit of indulgence.

Now that I can no longer have kids I am working towards the body I want. Picking out exercises that focus on the areas I want to improve. Learning about my habits through logging my food, has been the most interesting part so far.

Building my strength and endurance by increasing my activity has been very rewarding. If you remember I have had some concerns with my heart for a year. Due to that I have become accustomed to little to no movement and indulging on feel good foods.

In August, I learned that I can move around with the heart issue. As a matter of fact one of my issues disappears as my activity level increases.

My husband, oldest daughter and I are competing with my parents and brother to see who can improve their health. We have all set goals and are working on them at the same time. We are cheering one another on as well as holding each other accountable. We are all doing this with Fitbit! have you heard of it?

This past week was our first full week. I lost 1 kilo. I feel so much better and can already do some things I couldn’t do 2 weeks ago. I can run a little, I can breathe and talk while walking, and in general I have less days where I feel my heart pulsing and I struggle for breath.

My husband and I have logged our food and eating salads for lunch. On most days I am drinking Green Smoothies after I exercise. It is really interesting to know what your body does with different types of food.

Here is a cool infographic I plan to put into action in my diet over the coming weeks. What do you think about it? I think some of the foods really do have that impact. I have noticed some significant changes in my body from eating more food with fewer calories.

Zero Calorie Foods That Help you to Lose Weight


Here is a shot of my best day this past week!

fitmedayWhat are some of your favorite health and nutrition tips? Do you have any advice for me?

He Is!

You know my heart and my concern for the people of the Ukraine. This is not the first time I have mentioned it. I find it hard to wrap my mind around the horrifying events that have occurred around the world this week. Terrible things are happening all around us. The unceasing loss of life in the Middle East. Sex crimes, broken hearts and hurting families. When will it end?

I feel numb, at times enraged and always confused about the things I am hearing and seeing on the news.

Innocent lives lost in a war they were not involved in. Countless children abused and misused by adults and other children. Fighting killing and wars that never end.

We live in a broken world.

It is hard at times to keep it together. Difficult not to let emotions get the best of me. I am sure many of you feel the same way.

Take heart, in this world there will be trouble.

We are not the ones to put an end to it.

We trust in the Lord, the one who will right all wrongs. the one who shelters us in his wings, and swoops down from on high in response to our prayers.

Tonight I will sleep knowing that HE is, the one who heals, saves and loves. He brings comfort and peace.

May you take comfort in that as well. I can’t undo what evil has done in this world, but I can stand up and praise the one who knows how to care for each one affected by the effect of sin.

To him I pray tonight!

Please, comfort, heal and bring peace. When the world seems to rage around us thanks you for calming your children even as things seem to fall apart!



Another Link in the Chain

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to Podcasts and reading through The How They Blog website. I found the lovely Deidra Riggs there. Her blog inspired me, I even watched a Ted talk she gave. She seemed like a kindred spirit! I was thrilled when she asked me to take part in this link up with her.

I really hope the answers to the questions will help give you a little more insight into who I am; as well as the direction I am traveling here in life and the blog.

What am I writing or working on right now? I have not been blogging as much lately, because I am working hard to be purposeful about life. I am working to better plan and prepare so I can put out quality posts. I have prayed about the direction I need to go with this blog. I feel a strong call for this to be the way that I share my personal journey with the Lord. For that reason I am really trying to transition towards more devotional and Biblical posts.

I already write about ministry over at Whispers In the Calm. My friend Holly and I started it to create a place for women in Missions and Ministry. That being said, many of the ways the Lord teaches and upholds me have to do more with my personal life and spiritual journey with him. Those things are often being missed.

I have written a couple of articles for Character First this year as well.

I just returned yesterday from a week at Church Camp where I taught the younger kids Bible Basics. This was my first attempt to write concepts I learned in English and teach them in German. It was an undertaking that humbled, blessed and helped me as much if not more than the kids.

i will now be working exclusively on building a more consistent and real posts. I will still include stories about our travels, recipe and creations.

My goal is to write devotionals that can be translated for the women and children who are in need of such resources in the countries we minister too. I have had an idea for a children’s curriculum for some time now. I feel it is not time for that now. I need to concentrate on encouraging women and mothers so they can feel strong in the Lord. This is the best way to help build healthy families and give kids the foundation they need.

How does my work differ from others in my genre? I think the main difference I can bring to this genre is the perspective I have gained from living in and being in multiple cultures. God works among the Nations in different ways, but he always remains the same. It is so nice to witness that. I am honored to witness it and eager to share that.

Why do I write what I do? I honestly started blogging because it is a way to share what our life is like, with those who ask. Then it became a fun and cathartic way to use my creative energy.

I have always journaled. It helps me focus, dream, think and heal. Under my bed are the stories of my life. I would like to share the lessons I have learned and the places I have been here as well.

How does my writing process work? My thought process can be confusing to others as my mind sometimes works a little like popcorn in the microwave. There are so many ideas popping up at one time. I do my best to capture the ideas so I can use them.

I am inspired by many things. When I am out and something inspires an idea, I try to write it down. Then I think about all the many ways I could communicate the idea. I often do this while I am out walking. I recite the things I want to say in my head. I imagine myself writing them, sharing them and even trying to communicate them in German. This helps me to think it through.

After that I just start writing. I am working to improve my grammar as well as learn the “rules of grammar in blogging”. After writing from my heart, I edit and make sure it makes sense.

3 bloggers…

So here are the bloggers I would like to introduce to you.

Katie and I are in a blogging group together on Facebook. She and I both have 3 kids, and she seems to have a taste for adventure like I do!

Hi everyone! My name is Katie and I blog at Simply Clean Living and Run Wild in Alaska. I work as a Special Education teacher and live here in Alaska with my husband and three kids!

Simply Clean Living is my where blog and Facebook page I share crafts, recipes, organization ideas, and more – with an emphasis on things that don’t require a lot of time, money, or space. Being a full-time working mom of three little kids can be time-consuming and stressful, but this blog shows some of the ways we keep our small house organized, and have fun together with the kids!





Recently I started a new blog called

Run Wild in Alaska.

 It focuses on my journey toward staying fit and healthy, and exploring different ways to stay active as a family while exploring our beautiful home of Alaska! Run Wild in Alaska is a brand-new launch, and I would love to meet some of you on Facebook over on the  Run Wild in Alaska Facebook page, and hear what sorts of things you do to stay active with your family in your home state!





Thanks for reading!

I met Phyllis through a blog link up.













I consider myself a faith blogger.  SP is my space for self-expression, to inspire, motivate and share experiential wisdom … to celebrate family, life, love and my faith. I’m a King’s Daughter, Wife, Mother, Grandmother. I want my life to be a testimony. I’m an encourager and I pray through sharing my life experiences, I am able to inspire others to live their best life. I’m social on Facebook,  and Pinterest.

Simply Phenomenal


~ Inspiration~Motivation~Sage Wisdom


Holly is one of my personal friends:

Holly Kooi

holly in leaves


She blogs at Comedic Grievances and started Whispers in the Calm with me.

Here she is in her own words:

I’m a coffee-obsessed, Beatle-loving 25 year old American expat who lives with my wonderful husband and crazy cat in Vienna, Austria. Together (cat included) we learn Austrian-German, love people and make a lot of embarrassing cultural mistakes.

Right now on her blog you can follow the last weeks of her pregnancy. She and her husband are in the States awaiting the visas they need to return to Vienna. In the meantime they are going to have a baby boy. I am excited for her to become a mom, and anxious for her return to Vienna.

I hope that you take some time to get to know my friends and visit their blogs as well.

I would like to hear from you. What do you write about? Do you journal? What would you like to see more of on the blog?



2014-07-07 17.22.54


This has been a recurring theme in my life this year. This is the question I ask myself all the time. I live in a different culture. Years after moving far away from the one I was raised in, still these questions pop up in my mind.

Where do I fit?

Who are my people?


Do they remember me?

Are they enjoying getting to know me?

Do they like me?

How long will it be until the loneliness fades?

Then I remember that I am HIS. The one who made me loves me and keeps me secure in the shadows of his wings. When I take time to look away from myself I see others surrounding me, also safe in his care.

I find community.

I remember.

I am HIS, a daughter of the King of Kings.

That is who I am, It is where I belong!


Five Minute Friday

The Importance of Standing By Friends in Need

friendsI don’t know about you, but I have so many hurting people in my life. I feel so helpless sometimes. I have 5 friends fighting Cancer for their lives right now. A few have a good prognosis, but a couple know their days are numbered.

I will never forget what it was like to hear that news. What a scary conversation, one that brings up so many fears and questions.

I have other friends who are in the middle of separations, divorce and betrayal. What a broken world we live in.

I watch my children make friends and reflect on my own life. I think a lot about friendships. The Bible has many examples of relationships. Today I am thinking of how to help someone fight a battle. I talked to 3 of my hurting friends this week. I want to do something to change something. I listen, and I ache for what they are going through. I think of many nice things I could do, knowing that they are a far reach from what my friends need.

Do you remember the story in Exodus 17:8-15?

The story of how Isreal defeats the Amalekites?

Israel Defeats the Amalekites

While the people of Israel were still at Rephidim, the warriors of Amalek attacked them. Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.”

So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.

After the victory, the Lord instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-Nissi (which means “the Lord is my banner”). He said, “They have raised their fist against the Lord’s throne, so now the Lord will be at war with Amalek generation after generation.”

What a beautiful example of support. Standing beside someone when they need the help to stand. When I need to stand I know the one who goes before, walks behind and lifts me up when I can’t stand on my own. Not everyone knows him. I want to change that.

To some of my friends I am that person who can come alongside them and hold up their arms when they are too weak to hold on through the battles they face. I can also point them to the one who carries me through those times.

What a blessing to know the one who made all things. What an honor to share him with the world. The gift of Jesus is the most important thing we can give our friends. If they already know him, sharing his love is one way we can bless them.

What are the main thoughts you have after reading this passage and thinking of someone hurting in your life? In what ways can we practically stand by our friends?



Museum of Military History in Vienna, Austria

museumofMilitaryhistoryOne Hundred years ago yesterday an event occurred in Sarajevo that set off a chain of war declarations that started World War 1. Do you know what it is? Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife Sophie were there to observe military maneuvers planned in Bosnia that June. They were shot and killed in their car after the driver realized he was headed to the wrong place. There had already been an attempt on their lives that day. The grenade intended for their car landed behind them. They changed their schedule to visit those injured. The driver didn’t know. He was turning around and the assassin was in a cafe, and took advantage of his second chance.

My husband loves history and this is his favorite museum. We decided to visit today to see if there was anything special due to the 100th anniversary of the death of Franz Ferdinand and his wife. They have a new display about WW1.

It tells the story from the Austrian perspective. I always enjoy seeing the many different uniforms and small details. As a painter I am always in awe of the massive paintings. I often wonder how they really pulled that off an oil painting takes a long time and that was long before colored photos. The painters were incredibly talented to capture and tell the stories of war in their artwork.

This museum is the oldest in Vienna. It was built along with the Armory. It’s purpose to show and preserve Austria’s Military history and accolades.  It was always intended to honor the people and victories of the Empire.

The building is beautiful. The entire complex is. Franz Joseph had it built as a new city garrison after the old one was destroyed in 1848. In the front of the building the canon collection is on display.


When you walk in there are columns made of statues in the likeness of the whose who in Austrian military history. It is a hall of generals.


The story of World War 1 is the exhibit we visited today. In addition to the featured exhibit; there are 4 different sections in the museum each focusing on a specific period of history and battles.

They have on display the uniform of Franz Ferdinand. It is what he was wearing at the time of his death. They also have the conch he died on and the car he was shot in.

A portrait of Franz Ferdinand when he was younger. You can see the reflection of a sketch of his wife in the top left. This is where his uniform, and the couch where he died were on display.


Here is the car.


And here are various photos I took today.


painting of Serbian POW’s

POW camp artifacts. This was how they printed camp money.

POW camp artifacts. This was how they printed camp money.

Belt buckles, and shoe decor donated when they needed more metal.

Belt buckles, and shoe decor donated when they needed more metal.

war scraps from dolomites

war scraps from dolomites

If you are interested in War and/or history be sure to check this museum out.

Here is a link to their website: Military History Museum of Vienna.

If you like to take pictures you have to pay 2 euro. They will give you a sticker and receipt that shows you are allowed.

You can get listening guides in English to guide you through the displays.

This is a well done museum. I highly recommend it.

What types of things do you look for in a museum?