Lessons I’ve Learned: To Give and Receive Love

The value of another human’s presence.

It was late one evening and I was sitting in Starbucks reading a book. Alone. I was incredibly lonely. I had just officially moved to the city and had been a graduate for a whopping two weeks. All my friends had gone home for Christmas break, or had graduated and moved away.

I knew prior to going into this phase of my life that it would be lonely. I knew it. I just didn’t realize how lonely I would be. I didn’t realize that as much as I enjoy being by myself that there would be moments when I wished for someone to share them with me. The connection between two human beings as they share life is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. To be known and to know another person is profound. To be devoid of such relationship is crippling to one’s emotional well-being.

Tim Keller says it really well:

“When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all of your strengths and flaws, yet commits him- or herself to your wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self- righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life throws at us.”

As I walked the mile back to my car to make the twenty-minute drive back to my empty apartment I talked to God and expressed my frustration at being alone. Tears were streaming down my face and I knew he would care about what I was experiencing. (If you know me at all you know I rarely cry, so the fact that this was an occasion which warranted tears meant that it was important to me.)

If there is one thing I have learned over the course of my life, it is that God cares infinitely more about my heart than even I do. He knows the things that make my heart ache and the things which make it skip a beat and become light and free.

God cares infinitely more about my heart than even I do.

God heard my prayers and felt the pain of my aching heart. He did not leave me alone. Instead he answered in some of the most unexpected ways. First, I received a text the next day from a friend who I hadn’t spoken to in over seven years. It was totally out of the blue. Second, another friend offered to hang out with me the next day and I met up with her for dinner. Both of these were what would be normally considered as just coincidences, but I believe that every coincidence, no matter how small or how large, is totally orchestrated by God. God filled the void of loneliness for me by sending two friends to renew a friendship.

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Alone and unknown.

When was the last time someone said I love you to you? Was it earlier today? Yesterday? Last week? Last month?

I love you.

Those three little words which are far too often said without thinking, but also not said quite enough. It is an interesting phenomena to be surrounded by people and yet have no one to which you might say those words or have them said to you. The value and worth that it expresses to the other person is without a doubt the most powerful thing words can express. It is also the most hurtful when not expressed.

I grew up in a family which rarely, if ever, said I love you. I sort of knew that I was loved, and yet I did not. I knew my parents cared about me and that they would do anything for me, but then there were moments when a practical expression of love could’ve been shown and yet was neglected. There were times that just begged for the words to break the silence with a breath which exclaimed, “I love you”, but once again it was silent.

There were times that just begged for the words to break the silence with a breath which exclaimed, “I love you.” But once again it was silent.

So now I am here in the city and I am developing a circle of a handful of friends. The value of telling those you care about that you love them has become incredibly important. To affirm the value and worth of a friend and to let them know that they are cared for and meaningful to you is invaluable. Being single in the city means that hardly anyone says I love you. Unless it’s a super close friend, there isn’t much opportunity for anyone to express a deeper friendship than just a surface level knowing.

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How Deep the Father’s Love for us.

To be loved and known by God is probably the most incredible experience I’ve ever known. I remember as a young child I doubted the love of God. I wasn’t ever sure that God loved me. Would God love me like my family loved me? Would God forget to tell me he loved me? Would God fail to show me in practical ways that he loved me? Was God’s love for me based on how well I loved him back?

To be loved and known by God is probably the most incredible experience I’ve ever known.

It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that everything changed. (A long story for another time.) But on that day I knew. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God loved me more than I could ever imagine. I knew that God’s love for me would not harm me. He was not malicious. There was and is no evil in him. What he desires for me is good.

I physically felt safe in the everlasting arms of God. It was as if I had curled up in God’s lap and his arms were wrapped around my small fragile frame in a protective and loving embrace. There will never be any reason for me to leave that embrace.

Once I felt safe and secure in the love of God everything changed. I no longer felt like I was unloved and unvalued. God’s love was overwhelming. My whole body relaxed. It was as if I let out the breath I was holding. A sigh of relief. I felt secure in being myself. I was no longer worried about what everyone else was thinking about me. I knew that God was the one who cared most and that he wasn’t going to make a decision based off of something that was circumstantial in my life.

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Love is a choice.

This is nothing new. It’s nothing profound, but it is important.

Love is a choice. Over the last decade I have learned more about the fact that love is a choice you must make. When I was a sophomore in high school, I begged my parents to let me and my brother, Caleb, attend the youth group at my Grandparents church. This was an unthinkable request (also part of the long story of my life), and when they agreed I was shocked. Caleb and I started regularly attending Wednesday night youth group and began making friends.

It was at youth group that I became friends with Serena. Years later I would find out that Serena and I only became friends because her parents told her to reach out to me and befriend me. She chose to be friends with me. But even with that, we became like two peas in a pod. We were alike in so many ways and even looked alike for a year. (I’m not even kidding.)

A year or two later there was someone in my life who I chose to love even though I did not receive the same love in return. It became a wonderful relationship which I still have today, but all throughout this time it has been a lot of choices and decisions to keep loving and caring when I didn’t have any reason to.

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”  – Thomas Merton: No Man is an Island

I have learned just a tiny glimpse of what God’s love is like through this friendship. When I’ve been tempted to give-up and let go of this relationship, when things have gotten hard and I feel no love in return, I am reminded that God never gives up and doesn’t base his love on circumstantial things.

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God’s love does not play favorites.

God’s love is nothing like ours. We give God no decent reason to love us. Everything about our lives stinks. We are full of bad choices and sinful thinking. Even our best days are complete failures. And yet, for some reason God loves us. It blows my mind quite often. When I stop to think about the love of God I am often brought to tears because I am overwhelmed.

1 John 4:19

“We love because he first loved us.”

As a sinful human being, unconditional love is hard to comprehend. I look around me and see all the qualities that are loveable in my friends and I think to myself, “Because I don’t have those qualities God must love them more than he loves me”. But this is simply not the case. God’s love doesn’t look at us and evaluate how much love we deserve and then give us only that amount, but his love is extravagant. His love goes way above and beyond anything we could even begin to imagine.

His love is extravagant.

It is because of this love that we can begin to share it with others. Notice what this passage says. “Love is from God.” This isn’t something we conjure up in and of ourselves, but it is from God.

1 John 4:7-12

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

The more we come to know the one who is Love, the more we will be able to love others.

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Pride is the murderer of love.

Everything within me cries out in frustration and annoyance. I believe that I am the most important and that everyone around me should see the same. However, every person if they’re honest is all thinking the same thing. And until we begin to see outside of ourselves, we will only function as proud selfish people.

“We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.” – David Platt

The devil wants us to believe that we must look out for “number one” because no one else will. And when looking out for “number one” we must obliterate anyone in our way because they have the potential to ruin our happiness.

Jesus contradicts this on every level. In Christ we see one who did not value his own life, and in fact he let those who hated him have full access to his life so that he might bring us to God.

1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,”

Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” If we actually believed this to be true I think we would live life differently. The golden rule is certainly something nice to express when you want someone to treat you well. But it becomes something altogether different when faced with the challenge of expressing love and forgiveness to someone who has wronged you.

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Love extends an invitation to the other person.

C.S. Lewis said it well when he wrote in his book, The Four Loves,

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

Vulnerability is an invitation into the real, the raw, the good and the bad. It says, “Welcome to who I really am” and it extends the invitation for the other person to reveal the same. It says, “Come and see.” It means you give the other person the ability to completely destroy you, but you trust them not to.

Vulnerability is an invitation into the real, the raw, the good and the bad.

The question is, who would ever do this? Some may say only a person completely in love would allow the other person that much access to everything which is near and dear to them. However, I really like this quote because it explains the difference between love and infatuation:

“They say love is blind. I disagree. Infatuation is blind, love is all-seeing and accepting. Love is seeing all the flaws and blemishes and accepting them. Love is accepting the bad habits and mannerisms, and working around them. Love is recognizing all the fears and insecurities, and knowing your role is to comfort. Love is working through all the challenges and painful times. Infatuation is fragile and will shatter when life is not perfect. Love is strong and it strengthens because it is real.”
– Unknown

This is how God’s love is for me. It is accepting, it doesn’t stop working because I have bad habits, but it is perfect. God’s love for me is strong because it is who he is. If I can even begin to show just a small sliver of this type of love, I’ll be moving in the right direction. But the truth is that I can’t love the way I should. I can’t extend love towards others in the way I have been given love.

I must let the Spirit move in my life to extend that love to others. It is an intentional extension of my heart towards those who I don’t want to love. It means I must extend trust to them too. The walls must come down and the arms of acceptance and love must be extended.

Am I anywhere near living this out in my life? No. But by God’s grace, I am slowly learning how to love and to receive love in return.

Holding Time Hostage

This article was originally posted here on the Online Journal of Christian Communication and Culture. 

It was the summer of a lifetime. An epic road trip all over the western part of the U.S. to gather pictures for a photobook project was an absolute adventure full of obstacles and amazing experiences. However, spending a week tent camping in Yellowstone when it got down below freezing every night and pouring rain is not necessarily something to be repeated anytime soon. But without a doubt it was definitely worth it.

While on the trip, it was impossible to not go through the pictures and begin editing them. There were so many great pictures from all the places visited, it was hard to choose the best ones. And even then, it was hard to narrow down the pictures to just include the favorites out of the best ones. In the end about two thirds were eliminated in order to keep the project within its limits.


One of the lessons learned through this project was a detestation for bison. But on a serious note, the most important thing learned through this project is that the value of a photographer who is a believer is not tied to whether or not there is a Bible verse attached to each of their photos. It is unnecessary to add a Bible verse to the bottom of every picture in order to validate its worth.

To explain, there have been well-meaning who have asked why there aren’t verses or quotes added to the pages of the photobook along with the pictures. (In no way is this saying that the pictures which do have Bible verses attached to them is wrong, but instead that the obligation of adding a Bible verse is unnecessary.)

First, photographers who are Christians are called to create to the glory of God. Their work is not necessarily “Christian” – whatever that means – but rather it is good art because as a Christian our work should always be good and meaningful because we reflect our Creator who created the world and called all of it good.

Paul talks about all of our work being for the glory of God. Nowhere does he add the requirement for a Bible verse to be added alongside our work. But instead he says in all things we should do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31) In Art for God’s Sake, Philip Ryken says, “Artists are called and gifted – personally, by name – to write, paint, sing, play, and dance to the glory of God”.

Every photograph is made up of time and light. Time; seconds, minutes, hours. Each photograph is a slice in time. Each a moment of history. The click of the shutter and as fast as the blink of an eye that moment is gone. Each moment of time is a precious gift. Something to look back on and remember. Never to be repeated quite the same.

Brand and Chaplin say in Art and Soul, “To be Christian is to be convinced that, however inexplicable it can sometimes appear, ultimately life has a meaning and a purpose. For the Christian, human actions are not conditioned reflexes, but choices in which the whole person – body, intellect, emotions and spirit – plays a part. Art, for the Christian, can never be meaningless”. And if the world was honest, nothing has ever been created without meaning attached and imbedded in it.

With that being said, every click of the shutter ought to have more dimensions than just its surface value. Purpose adds layers to an otherwise meaningless piece of art. If a photograph is created with purpose and meaning, it is worthy of being evaluated and given the attention it deserves.


Second, the job of the photographer is to know the meaning which has been captured in each image. Hans Rookmaker says all art should be created with purpose when he writes in Art Needs No Justification, “The same [referring to communicating through art] applies to the pamphlets being handed out, the posters being made. These should be well designed and in good taste; they are often the outsiders first encounter with Christians. In a way they constitute our outward face and appearance. Just as people show who they are by their clothes and the way they move, so these things (music, posters – in one word, art) are the things that form our first and sometimes decisive communication.”

If we truly believe each image has meaning and a purpose then we will be careful to make each click of the shutter count. “Often we are satisfied too soon, too easily. We pick up what the world does, change some obvious things, and then we think we have arrived. Our paintings are sometimes the same as theirs, maybe just a little bit less shocking or radical. But to be a Christian is not to be conservative or less exciting” (Art Needs No Justification). In fact, because we have access to the ultimate truth in Jesus Christ, our art should be radical and stunning. It should cause the viewers to pause and ask, “What is that? I want to know why those artists have an inside understanding of life.”

As a result, then, there will be less careless photos and more attention to the composition and the light which is captured by each shot because we understand that creating good art is more than merely copying what the world is currently producing. As a photographer, all of time: the seconds, minutes, and hours matter. Each moment is here and then gone. As Christians who are photographers we are to create by sharing a part of who we are as we capture the moments happening in our lives. This is not merely filling space, but using the gift of photography to encourage and build up those around us, specifically the church.

But how is the church built up when the world is so full of images which do not encourage and glorify God?

Before there is even time to blink the shutter clicks and yet another moment in time has been captured. No matter where you look there are pictures being taken and videos uploaded to the internet at such a high rate it is mind boggling to even keep track of. A moment forever frozen in time. A slice of time. A memory. The world is oversaturated with photos which do not have meaningful messages imbedded within them. Yes, there is meaning attached to every selfie image taken, but it may not be meaningful. There is a difference between containing meaning and being meaningful. But as one who has been given meaning by the Creator, the photographer who is a Christian takes images which have meaningful messages imbedded, whether this meaning is in the subjects of the photos themselves, or is brought into the photos by the photographer who gives the image meaning, because our goal is to create to the glory of God.


But what does it mean to create to the glory of God? Our culture is constantly changing and with it art is constantly changing as well – evolving to match the culture in which it resides. Who has the right to define what constitutes good art and what fails to make the cut? As a follower of Christ, however, we can rely on the example given by God to prove that art –good art– must have a purpose and a meaning.

If a photograph, painting, or movie has a purpose, Christian’s are obligated as purposeful beings to assess its value. David exclaims in Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” There is value in creation because it declares the glory of God, which means that David is accurate in his assessment of the value of creation. He did not give it value, but rather the value was already there because God gave it value.

In the beginning God created the world and called it good. Genesis 1:31 says, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good”. God added value and meaning to it before man entered the scene. He was not concerned whether or not man would appreciate and see the purpose in his creation before he called it good, but instead all throughout the Genesis narrative God declares each part of creation to be good right from the start.

God was not concerned whether or not man would appreciate and see the purpose in his creation before he called it good.

“But just like any other part of creation can point beyond itself to the reality of the Divine Maker, if we have eyes to see, we will discover him in the pounding waves, in the laughter of children in the whiteness of a sudden snow flurry, or simply in the work colleague who takes the trouble to ask how we’re feeling” (Art and Soul). The value of creation is not tied to man’s interpretation of it or its meaning, and not even its use for daily life or enjoyment, but purely because its creator declared it to be so.

In the same way a photograph can capture our attention and cause us to remember the work of God in our lives or in the lives of those around us. Shouldn’t we also be sharing the story of how God is working? Maybe it’s the story of how God has provided, or how God heals. No matter what the story is, the photographer has the ability to share the stories of what God is doing in the world around them with people who may never come in contact with the subjects of the photos themselves.


Some artwork, however, has lost a reflection of its creator. But all hope is not lost because art’s purpose and meaning can be revived by bearing in mind the example which was set for us since the creation of the world. But in order to create to the glory of God there are certain guidelines in which to stay to create something that God blesses. Not all photography falls inside these conditions. “God has a high standard for art, and obviously he does not and cannot endorse the content of work that is pornographic or propagandistic, or that violates his character in some other way. What is meant instead is that God blesses a rich variety of art forms” (Art for God’s Sake).

There is a very real difference between good art and bad art as Ryken says, but it is not something that is explicitly stated in Scripture. Instead the photographer must be aware of what is good art by looking at the world in which we live and noticing what God has created. These are real live expressions of what God considers to be good art.

What God has created is a real live expression of what He considers to be good art.

Many believers will have opportunities that the rest of the body of Christ will never be able to encounter and experience, they should use their gifts and abilities to bless the body of Christ. With the unique ability and gift to see the world and capture life in a way no one else can, photographers can capture these fleeting moments and use them as gifts that encourage and build up the body of Christ.

The question is, how does photography have an eternal impact on the church?

“Just as personal redemption has a now and not yet aspect, so does the redemption of the material world. God has reconciled us to himself through Christ, says Paul, but it does not stop there. He also ‘gave us the ministry of reconciliation’” (Art and Soul). This is experience based knowledge. It is being intimately known through rituals which become common experiences for us. There are countless examples of photographers who are using their talents to impact the Kingdom, but here are a few to look at: Tanner Wendell, Jon Courville, Annalise Holmes, Griffin Lamb, Jeff Wolsleger

Arguably one of the ways to best minister is through relationships. We are created to be relational in nature. With that being said, each person is uniquely gifted in a specific area and has the responsibility to share it with the body of Christ. In a culture which emphasizes the individuality of each person, we have the opportunity to change that mindset and reach out to others.

We are created as relational beings.


Paul challenges the Corinthian church with these words, “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body each one of them, as he chose…the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (1 Cor. 12:18-25). The gift is being able to see God work and capture those moments to share with the body of Christ as an encouragement and exhortation. “So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Cor. 14:12).

Each person has his specific function within the Kingdom and not one can be left out. Certainly some play the music, draw the likenesses, photograph the movements and write the stories. These are the artists. They have their rightful place in the family of God. Again, the life of the body of Christ, and certainly a renewal, an awakening, is impossible without these members called by God to do their job. As the body moves, works, thinks, speaks not for its own sake but called by God to be the salt of the earth, artists are not just servants of a Christian subculture but are called to work for the benefit of all. (Art Needs no Justification).

The body of Christ is made up of individuals who all have a specific purpose and job. No one job is more important than another.

To neglect the gift which God has given fails to serve the body of Christ. But we often look through our biblical spectacles to see two apparently opposing views: the secular world’s quest for the spiritual through art and the Christian world’s suspicion that art is too worldly to be spiritual.
But this is merely dualism. It separates God’s creation into distinct and opposing realms, one representing good, the other representing evil: holy versus profane, sacred versus secular, material versus spiritual. (Art and Soul)

Dualsim is another way of explaining legalism.

But dualism is merely a cop-out answer. It’s the easy way out. Because the heresies that dualism encourages are attractive. They are safe and uncomplicated. In contrast, living life that is both fully committed to our art and fully committed to Christ can seem like a precarious balancing act. For the photographer who is striving to glorify God in his art, that may mean a continued struggle for a biblical path, trying to find the rightful role of both photography and photographer in the world (Art and Soul).

This is a delicate line to walk because there is a difference between creating art to bring people to your message, and creating art which is your message. Our job is not to create something that is blatantly labeled as “Christian”, but instead our art should point to the redemption which we have experienced. And if this includes the need to portray sin, our commission to be holy demands that we do not glory in it. It means developing work with a truthfulness and clarity that shows evil for what it is, without the need for pontificating or preaching. (Art and Soul).

Our art should point to the redemption which we have experienced in Christ.

Ryken says, “Art is an incarnation of the truth” (Art for God’s Sake). Incarnation is a term which the Christian community holds dear as it explains the mystery of God with us in Jesus Christ. Incarnation is the literal embodiment of something that is not normally human in nature. Photography is an example of how truth, which is not physical in nature can be brought into the physical realm and display a message in a way that is physical.

But even though photos can show truth in a physical way, the task of a Christian photographer is not to portray God’s plan of salvation in three easy stages. Very rarely indeed will we be called upon to tell the Gospel story in its completeness. What we can do is give plenty of hints. We will show that redemption can come in the darkest of places through the most unlikely people (Art and Soul). (Examples: Schindler’s List, The Shawshank Redemption,Dead Man Walking)

These examples show that it is possible to create stories which include a redemption story but without labeling them as “Christian”. To make an audience believe in the possibility of redemption, it is necessary to dig under the surface and show the cost. Unless there is a cost to redemption, the story loses its credibility as being true.


The photographer is responsible to create images which are redemptive. “They [the artists] create images of grace, awakening a desire for the new heavens and the new earth by anticipating the possibilities of redemption in Christ” (Art for God’s Sake). As the photographer creates images which honor and glorify God, the need to label them as blatantly Christian will cease to exist because the images will speak for themselves.

Just like Psalm 19 says that creation declares the glory of God all by itself, pictures of nature and people do not need to be labeled as “Christian” because the message is already being shared in the image itself.

This is photography for God’s sake.

The photographer knows a meaningful moment captured on film will be appreciated for years to come, but even though a picture is worth a thousand words, it is still important to pause and appreciate the moment in real time happening in front of us because it is only here that we can live out the reality of the Gospel to the fullest extent.

Two summers ago, while on a study abroad trip through Europe it was really important to stop and take a step back to actually enjoy being in places of beauty and history. The reality of merely seeing and experiencing through the viewfinder of the camera and not with our eyes is way too easy to do without even trying. Unfortunately this was all too true when the realization sunk in moments after walking out of the Sistine Chapel and realizing that I did not see the painting of “God’s creation of Adam”. Sheer disapointment. That moment cannot ever be repeated. It is gone.

As much as we might wish, it is not possible to travel back in time and change the message being shared in past moments captured on film. But if we are purposeful with how our time is being spent we will engage with those around us while capturing those moments.

The thing to remember is that the Bible is not a magic eight ball for us to shake and suddenly get the right answer of what to do in regards to our artistic choices and creations, but rather,

“…what the Scriptures give us is not a theology of the arts, but a biblical framework within which the arts, like all other human activity, can be evaluated and understood” (Art and Soul).

So is it wrong to slap a Bible verse on your photography and call it good? Of course not. But if as a believer your art can only be validated as being meaningful and worthy by adding scripture passages to it, then you have missed the point of doing all to the glory of God. Jesus said to the Pharisees in Luke 19:39-40 that if the disciples ceased from praising God and worshipping that even the rocks would cry out!

Job certainly understood this as well when he says:

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
    the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
 or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
    and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
 Who among all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
    and the breath of all mankind.
Does not the ear test words
    as the palate tastes food?
Wisdom is with the aged,
    and understanding in length of days.
{Job 12:7-10}

James K.A. Smith said in his lecture at The Gospel and Culture Conference, “This is why Christian worship is central to Christian cultural renewal. It should be embodied, full-orbed, holistic, historic Christian worship that the message of the Gospel and the vision of the Kingdom is seeping into my bones, not just in a message I am hearing but through a picture I am absorbing through aesthetic practices.” (Culture as Liturgy) Listen to the whole lecture here.

It is time to see the reality of the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

In Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, N.T. Wright says, “The arts are not the pretty but irrelevant bits around the border of reality. They are the highways into the center of a reality which cannot be glimpsed, let alone grasped, any other way”. This is our opportunity to dive into the reality of the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. The now and not yet. The opportunity to see the value in every moment and glorify God in everything we do and create.

Did you see? Scroll back up. Don’t get lost in the words, but pause and look at each image and give God glory for what He has created.


Brand, Hilary, and Adrienne Chaplin. Art and Soul: Signposts for Christians in the Arts. Carlisle, UK: Piquant, 2001. Print.
Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Crossway, 2002. Print.
Rookmaaker, H. R. Art Needs No Justification. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1978. Print.
Ryken, Philip Graham. Art for God’s Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2006. Print.
Smith, James KA. “Culture as Liturgy.” Gospel and Culture Conference. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.
Wright, N. T. Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 2006. Print.

Life was just happening

We had no idea…that life was just happening.


Our home for three and a half weeks.


It can get easy to take for granted where we are staying for these few weeks. But a couple days after we came back from free week, we went out on a tour of the city where we learned all about Regensburg and the city’s history.




I love this town.

Its simplicity.

Its history.

Its cobblestone streets.

Its gelato shops.

Its people.


Germany is nothing like what I expected. It is totally and completely different.

I didn’t expect the rich history, the beautiful countryside, and the beautiful houses.

IMG_3215So many times as we would be on the train going somewhere, I would look out the window and if I didn’t know any better I would’ve said we were in Wisconsin.

The trees. The corn and wheat fields. The John Deer tractors.

But one of my favorite things is the fact that we’re right next door to the Danube River.



The river is so calming to sit by and watch the barges and the Viking cruises go by.


One of my favorite things is to grab my journal and Bible and sit down by the river.

This summer has been full of conversations, classes, and people who have invested in my life. I have enjoyed this trip so much.

But sitting by the river is one of the places that I can go to be by myself.

It is hard to escape from constantly being around forty other people. I am a introvert hard core, so every once in a while I just need to go be by myself.

It is here that I can think.

I feel like a different person.

I hope I am.

I am working through so much in my life right now.



Making hard decisions.

Launching out in faith.

I’m scared as all get out.

Learning to trust.

Feeling secure in the love of God.

Rethinking almost everything.

As much as I hate change, and my natural instinct is to push back from anything new, I have really appreciated being brought out of my comfort zone.
No, it’s not easy.
Are there hard days? Of course!
Days of frustration and tears? Yep!
But there isn’t anything quite like pouring out your heart and soul and finding the love of God there to meet you!
It has been a blessing to be stationary for the last few weeks so that we could focus on our studies and settle into life here in Regensburg.
But don’t forget about the (almost daily) gelato runs!

Especially when we don’t feel like studying!

Don’t judge me.
I know you are.

But don’t worry. Many times I have walked all through town and not gotten gelato!

It is possible. Not ideal, but possible.


This town holds so many memories.

I will miss it.

I will miss watching the sunset while sitting by the Danube.

I will miss hearing the bells ring from all the churches.

I will miss walking down the cobblestone streets to get to church every Sunday.

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I will miss being with these people I have spent so much time with, the memories we have made, the conversations, the hikes we have gone on, the buses we have ridden on, and the churches we have visited.

I have had one of the most incredible summers of my life.

It seems to be ending just a little too soon.

But don’t worry, I still have a few more places to show you!

Of Fairytales and Castles

Neuschwanstein Castle.

The epitome of every little girl’s dream is to live in a castle. Especially one that looks like this.

I decided to join the group that was taking a day-trip to Füssen to see the Neuschwanstein Castle.

This is the castle that Walt Disney patterned his “Cinderella” castle off of.

I know why now. It is so artistic and fun looking. This isn’t the “fortress” type of castle. This is the fairytale and dragons type of castle.


It took four hours traveling by train to get to Neuschwanstein, which meant we arrived in Füssen around lunch time.

We had to wait until 5:30 pm to get a tour inside the castle, so we walked around the town and were able to get some reading/homework done for a few hours while we waited.



The whole town is super cute.

But it wasn’t until 3:30 that someone told us about the beautiful lake just down the road from where we had been sitting!

I ran down the road to see what the view was like and it was totally worth it.

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The water was so blue.

It reminded me of Switzerland so much! I miss the mountains so much.

It is just so peaceful to be by beautiful mountains with the lake on one side and the green German countryside on the other.

We decided to walk up the road to the castle instead of paying for a bus ride, so after a thirty minute walk, we made it to the outside of the castle.




After a few minutes of walking around, I ran into Chris who told me to run (literally) up to the bridge that overlooks the castle.

So I did. I literally ran around the mountain up to the bridge so I could get the “post-card” pictures!


It was worth it!



I only had about thirty-sixty seconds to grab my pictures before I needed to run back down around the mountain in order to not miss my tour time!!!

The view was just as incredible as it looks! IMG_3327

Check out the second castle in the bottom right of the picture.

A closer shot here:



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We weren’t allowed to take pictures in the castle, so I followed the rules here.

But the whole inside of the castle was unlike anything I would’ve imagined. It was painted with fun colors and designs all over the ceilings and walls.


I had a blast!! It was so worth the trip.

And at the end of the day, we had a four hour train ride back to Regensburg.

Clara stole my camera to take pictures while we were waiting for the bus to take us to the train station.


These guys….



Oh my face! (hides behind hands)

The train was full. (That might be a minor understatement)



Tiffany is sitting on the floor in the aisle.

Lucas sleeping on the floor…IMG_3370

Bicycles and Windmills

Our last day of free week consisted of us renting bikes to ride around the city.

I love biking!

But in Amsterdam it was a whole different experience.


There are so many bikes already in the city as well as cars and trams going all over the place that it is really quite the experience.

Amsterdam is the city of bicycles.

There are more than 800,000 bikes in the city!

We had an absolute blast.

IMG_3202Although I was a little more confident while riding bikes, Tiff had a great time too! There were just a few instances where I went across the street thinking that she was right behind me and then a few blocks later realizing that she had gotten stuck by traffic or a tram crossing.

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But otherwise, we were able to stick together and have a great day riding around the city.


We rode towards the “Red Light” district because I wanted to get a picture of the lights. But after I got the picture, we got out of there.

I’m not really sure how to explain what I felt as we approached the Red Light district. It felt weird to be there.


We left right away.

There was no need to stay.

Being able to see a lot more of the city because we were on bikes was a lot of fun!


We even made it over to Haarlem!

I was super excited about this because I really wanted to get a picture of an actual windmill and during the whole day I had been on the lookout for one but hadn’t seen one anywhere in Amsterdam.

(I’m sure they’re there, but we weren’t in the right area apparently.)

But sure enough, as we were crossing the canals, I saw one down the road not too far away, so we rode down and got some pictures.


The only problem with riding bikes on Friday was that we had to catch a plane on Saturday morning.

This might not seem like a big deal, but since our flight was at 7 a.m. we would need to leave our hostel at 3:30 a.m. in order to get to the airport in time.

This didn’t seem like the best plan for two American girls.

We decided that it wasn’t the safest thing to be walking across Amsterdam in the middle of the night in order to get to the airport.

So we did what anyone would do…

We spent the night in the airport.

That was not fun.

First, after biking all day on Friday we were sweaty and hot.

Second, I’m pretty sure I only slept two hours because of all the noise and people constantly walking by us.

Our first flight left over an hour late. 

I felt so bad for all the passengers who had connecting flights that they missed.

Fortunately, Tiffany and I had an 8 hour layover in Zurich, so we didn’t have to worry about missing our flight.

Zurich, Switzerland. Oh, how I missed seeing the green hills and mountains of Switzerland. So it was a treat to be back in the land of the Swiss Alps for just a few hours.

However, Zurich is one of the most expensive places in Switzerland. (Switzerland in general is very expensive)

We grabbed lunch in the airport. Let’s just say that it was one of the most expensive Whoppers that I have ever eaten.

After spending 22 hours traveling we made it back to Germany.

And that is the end of my free week.

Haarlem – Corrie ten Boom House

July 10, 2014

I woke up with great anticipation for what the day would hold.

Going to Haarlem to visit the Corrie ten Boom house.

I was so excited. This has been a dream for my whole life to be able to visit where Corrie lived.

The reason Tiffany and I didn’t go to Haarlem the previous two days was because of the weather.

But Thursday was predicted to be nice and sunny. And it was.

IMG_3139We walked to Central Station and bought our train tickets to Haarlem.


You gotta love Amsterdam where there are parking garages just for bikes!




It was about a 15 minute train ride into Haarlem.

After arriving in Haarlem we ran into a problem.

I had no idea where to go. 

The normally “type A” person that I am did not think about googling directions from the train station to the Corrie ten Boom house before we left that morning.

This is so not like me….maybe it was because I was so excited….

But we decided to stop in one of the shops on the way out of the train station to ask for directions.

That plan failed. 

The employee in the shop had no idea what we were talking about!

So the next plan was to hope that the road signs would show us where to go.

This isn’t like America where you can just pop up the internet on your smart phone. Nope. We’re in The Netherlands where we have no cell service.

But we were in luck.

All over Europe there are “tourist attraction” signs that point to the important locations in that area.


This sign was just on the other side of the train station.

We now knew where to go!


Haarlem is adorable!

There were more people riding bikes than driving cars. If I could go back I would totally stay in Haarlem versus Amsterdam because it was just so cute.


And then….there it was.

If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve walked right past the shop.

The street where Corrie’s house is, has been turned into a high-end shopping district.

One one side of Corrie’s house is an H&M store and the other side has a Lush store.

I saw the blue awnings that had the ten Boom name on them and my excitement grew!


The first thing I did was to check when the times were for an English tour.IMG_3146

You can’t see, but behind me on the door is a sign that has two clocks on them. One shows the next time for a Dutch tour, and the other shows the time for the next English tour.

We had quite a bit of time before the next English tour, so we went into H&M next door and looked around.

Then we walked around the town and explored Haarlem for a little while.


My Dad had informed me that if I made it to Haarlem that I was supposed to go to this church that had an amazing organ in it.

Well, sure enough it was just down the block and around the corner.


But since there was a fee to get in, we decided to wait until after touring the Ten Boom house before going in to see the inside of the church.

It was worth the wait.

Instead, what we did while we waited was to pick up a pound of fresh strawberries from the grocery store in town to eat with our very nutritious snacks. (Remember the nutella, crackers, and pretzels?)

We ate all the strawberries!

Since the sign on the door informed us that the tour could only hold 20 people, we decided to go back and wait in the alley by the door for the last 20 minutes to make sure that we would get in on the next tour.

The Ten Boom house still has the clock shop in the front of the house. So they don’t allow visitors to just wait in the store.

We sat on the window ledge of the H&M store in the alley right across from the green door!

The tour guide would periodically let people out of the house.

Every time she would open the door, she would see us and say in a sweet voice “just a moment and I’ll come back for you.” It was adorable.

While we waited, more people arrived for the tour as well.

I was glad that we arrived when we did because I didn’t want to miss our tour.

And then it was our turn.


Apparently we weren’t supposed to take pictures in the house except for in Corrie’s room where the hiding place was.

I broke the rules.

I just had to have pictures.

If I came all this way I was determined to get pictures to remember this day!

IMG_2636 This is the piano in the living room.

I tried to be sneaky about taking videos and pictures, but then just gave up on it.

To begin, our tour guide’s name was Aty. She is a Dutch woman who is in her early 70’s. Such a sweetheart and totally funny. She volunteers at the Ten Boom house to share Corrie’s story with the tourists who come every day.

As she let us into the house, we were directed to walk up the (very narrow) stairs into the living room.

It was here that we all sat down and introduced ourselves and said where we were from.

Aty informed us that she would tell us the story of the Ten Boom family.  And since the Ten Boom’s were Christians, this would be a Christian story.

And from the beginning she shared the entire story of Corrie and her family and their love for God’s people and all people, but especially the poor and vulnerable ones!

Over and over Aty shared the gospel through the story of the Ten Booms.

The story of God’s love and forgiveness!

I won’t write the whole story out here, but I would highly recommend that you read the book The Hiding Place if you can!

After sitting in the living room for about a half an hour as Aty told the story, we were then able to get up and look around the room to see some of the pictures that were hanging on the wall.

None of the furniture in the house is original furniture to the Ten Boom’s except the piano and two clocks.

The needlepoint on the coffee table was made by Corrie herself. But other than that, it has been changed.

Throughout the rest of the house though, everything has stayed the same.

We moved upstairs to Corrie’s room where we were able to see the hiding place that six people hid in for two and a half days.


They have obviously cut a hole in the wall so that you can see inside and take pictures. It is really small.  One of the reasons that the Jews were never discovered was because the architect who built the fake wall was smart and used bricks instead of just wood. That way when someone knocked on the walls to see if there was a hiding place behind it there would not be a hollow sound that wood would allow. But instead it sounded as if it was the outside wall.


Aty told us that since they never knew when the Nazi’s would show up, they would practice getting into the hiding place in less than a minute.

But, they could only get it down to seventy seconds. This is still impressive because if they were eating dinner they would have to take everything with them so that it would only look like three people were living in the house and not nine. (Corrie, Betsie, and their Father Casper) And all of their belongings too.

So it wasn’t just a matter of running up the stairs but it was also grabbing all their belongings and getting everything into the hiding place too.


We learned from Aty that the reason Betsie knew they had been set-up was because there were cars all along the street and the ally way. The reason that was suspicious was that no Dutchman owned a car because the Nazi’s had confiscated them all. So since there were so many cars around, she didn’t think it was safe.

She pushed the silent alarm.

Betsie was able to stall the Nazi’s long enough for the Jews to get into the hiding place.



It wasn’t until two and a half days later that some of Corrie’s friends who were Dutch policemen (double agents) were able to convince the Nazi’s to let them “guard” the house.

This way they were able to get inside and let all the people out!!

Those who were hiding in the house were able to escape through the roof.

IMG_3164The way the houses are built there is a natural barrier for anyone to see past because of the steep roofs. So they were able to hide on the roof and get over a few houses to escape to safe places in the countryside.


There is still one man living that was the youngest Jew hiding in the Ten Boom’s house that made it through the entire war. He was able to escape to the United States.

It wasn’t until the 50th anniversary of the hiding place that he came back to see everything and remember where he had spent those scary days hiding.

Just seeing the hiding place brought tears to my eyes. 


It felt surreal to be there. Standing in the hiding place. 

I had goosebumps.

After being in Corrie’s room we moved up one more flight of stairs to the rest of the bedrooms which have now been turned into a museum (of sorts).

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Aty told us all about what life was like during WWII. Since she actually lived through it, she had first hand experiences and stories of how life was during the Nazi occupation of Holland.

After seeing the rest of the upstairs, we went back down the narrow stairs to the dining room where we saw the “all safe” signal in the window.



This is where our tour ended.

Aty had the kids from one of the families that was touring with us practice running all the way upstairs and hiding in the hiding place as fast as they could.
It was so funny. Because as they ran upstairs, they made so much noise I’m sure you could have heard them outside.

So when they came back down, she laughed and told them that they did great, but next time they would have to be quieter so that the soldiers wouldn’t hear them outside.

We talked with Aty for a few more minutes and signed the guest book. Then before we left, we were talking to the family with the kids and found out they were from the Kansas City area and were on their way to Kenya for a missions trip next week.

Aty then let us out of the house and we said goodbye.

I was on a adrenaline high!!

Tiffany can tell you that I was so happy and excited I couldn’t stop smiling. It was seriously the experience of a lifetime.

A dream come true.

Nothing could have prepared me for how awesome it would be to actually be inside the house and see the place where Corrie and her family lived.

Absolutely unbelievable. I will never forget this experience.

Next we went and walked through the city.

We went to this adorable tea shop and I picked up a tea cup to bring home with me as a souvenir.

But before we left the city, we needed to see the church. St. Bavo’s church is absolutely incredible.


I wasn’t planning on staying very long, but right after we walked inside, it was apparent that this church was unlike anything we had seen before.

And I’ve seen a LOT of churches over the last few weeks.

The floor caught our attention right away and I was curious enough to go ask one of the volunteers working inside to explain what the floor was.

IMG_3188You can probably guess by looking at the picture what the floor was made up of, and I figured that I knew already, but I wanted to make sure that I had assumed correctly.

Sure enough, the lady I asked told me that I was right.

The floor is completely made up of different graves.

Each grave is marked with a number and for the elite and wealthy in the community, they would also have their family crest or emblem put into the stone too. This would show their status and wealth.



Apparently, it was considered really good if you were buried during a sermon, so often there would be a normal service going on at the same time a burial service as well.

Just imagine the smell.


That was just the floor.

Now the organ.

WOW!! It was huge.


During our short conversation with the lady who informed us about the floor, she mentioned that in a half an hour there would be a organ concert if we would like to stay!

So of course I practically almost died! Yes!


It was beautiful!

The whole concert lasted about an hour. It was so much fun!

ÛÛ¥=«…†±U_I@Í@|NeK¹Úÿ�#øu5¥	ºÓ)·É,•¤$tËCL¹©áCtÅ4¸1áƔz÷À¬‹ÉÞqŸË]Í”w¶a?1ÁIJ”+ö¾ÉÀC(š@ë×÷zö¹yª4+—’LHIT¢‚Æ»A¥"Êí¥…JÊ¡˜šô±µ¥·=1@+E©ŸŸB”>IŠµ½•åÈcoÌ#rŠZƒÞ˜¡RÔ¾ÿ�֔>ûdK Êü£éXÙÝ]ºð¹‘ø©=B�ÇærB©”cºc&¹変r¡ `ÊyûN¾ã)¶óö3»2í±=ò×9V‡on˜†%nçqZcjCXPÖ*«é»…=»|†Á]éÃ²àÿÑó£)”Æåø[öˆ÷ÈE²fÊ•jdØ".!ôˆÚ¿/_™‰f§—E¥7ûöúrq"ÚäEµê¶ý7©ûÅ2›p•…=ˆ?ð8ÒÚ¤sʨ6ýk€„‚Ueº‘©P‚Íß«`Š3O6W.ò¢Yе6øo¾Jv¹—15„9*ü˜°#b(zಙB‚m¦Mu¦éQDñú3I!—ûF´ÿ�W¶òm÷M²¼Öµ	lì¢äÒ³×Š!jòc‚1%¦E›]ù4ÙiF;vi®&‘G'zýšEÁ1B›1ʹ°VÔZ“ ž¡J°ë¿ÄöÈF;¶Îb’ƒ!å·JP¶œn-×ƄÄìGÙ{×m°ºaOÔ>±û…0Ów3ú¿(k‘¡"ŸqV˜’I=Nø«aØt8)‘æÞ8Òñ—ÿÒòü²—³ÅX–@ٓ²¶àÓ%H2UÝÿ�y!û[(í¶N k"y¬”8ò#}ê:}›ŠÌŠº¸ª°ŒF@Ãn£¦F÷gF­ÖðÍpÜŸ3Ò¿ÓO’?0"H=H¢V’&a°e û­qÄ7g9Yɼ±Zj“Kôi `=xšŒ,‘þV°:nŽæ‚+«‰ÕuêQ	U©ÜɈ¨´e2ƒU•›Ñb=2@¯pk±åܳyŸ›Åæ[õ }¾F‚ŸiAÛç lÆ÷Jb·žb}ÚJu३÷d˜/iJÄb"Œ{oR>üom†[RNI­¬UØ«±Wb®Å_ÿÓòÂU’¾à{Œ [–&$ÔôÛ!©2q!4à+–Lp”ÖʉÅnMA|‰µ0 Ð·sOÛ!ÄËÂ(Ý*ÞÌó¾RÖáMTT‡LL’1¢u.Þe0KU.†(úÕXëþ¶@KvFEèÞS’ðó7"(UAÒ­SØã—BL,ÅxúnŸyƒ9hm÷äÿ�hóø‰Úƒzä2s¡É²�óݪXMlíe![‡øŒˆjFûšõir7GeŒÁ§^,W¯<ìL²S”œh¬�êÛ¦BÙÊfœ‹x­á¼qSìûæQ5:Ú]5üVwBå*CÉƝýÉÊ1Ÿ<”—WKÄR«sšW’ü&´ú2AAØ]ɧ۫ÆiꚑӦ#$ŸKÕý(pž”¥}=›){ ´úÑL³ÅނŒ¸Æׄ%¾ŽÝF6Ÿk)SC„·Š»ÿÔò¼Uõɔ9«¡�¡éNÔÌzƒlŽÊ37''Ç-Êl¸áRØŸÙ]lYÄîÈ}?s_Քå	Zù%QAZ{¶�Z¢?Ĝw^¬z§);„ÏH¼¹šo©Û°Bjìàš•î=òüW!£0lŠ+8 Žâ5yª;Š·¾çJ:Ö£al¶Ð,Ji8ր‘Q÷’‡5Biˆ–²ú/(Y¹¨?³òöȘgÅa0m´¾•¬aÚCû鉧_œåÜIJZC3¸ºe†CºÔéЫ}Œ©)6¹`/.áˆJ¬öðòä´<ªÛx™l#lJS{BB„Ô.ʀT(þ¸&7HK%£‡nôÀÄ®Šîâ?³)ìqH*`8é¾bÖËö«„1Ÿ5˜X;v*ÿ�ÿÕò¨$Ž¸¤DˆË€èÊÁ™AȉQl;…9•TÒµ?†de¦€©hEXÕHê?ŽTNÌãÍUÕQUA«1¢Õ–ƒçBrä.x˜5:žHãlAR“G#¡'u§ë¦=ź¬¬‰`oNAö]Yÿ�g„HŽH;ô]6³«A!çžû׋~;åÀAh‘£Nõ.µ	D·rx©é€ßÄwÈä!8Ó¨î^OCÔøYÆÿ�1‘Èl2	êó%ˆ¢†b®" €á!‡:ïZÒï4¿«Ü–ñºº#ã^ûŸ[r¢“Ä1­{m¶]›ëÑÂAüçp£p‰Á$ J	ÁëJžAP'Ã0èHƒÙ©^ƒ�M­Â‡b®After the concert ended we made our way back to Amsterdam.


Since we had only eaten snacks all day we decided to get authentic Dutch food.


Dutch pancakes!!

They tasted so good I had to keep telling myself not to eat too fast because I was so hungry!

A day full of memories and experiences that I will never forget!



Adventures in Amsterdam

Free week.

I have been looking forward to this week of the summer the whole time. I was probably more excited about this part than any of the other things and places that we have gone to this whole summer.

Traveling to Amsterdam to see the Corrie ten Boom house in Haarlem has always been a dream of mine.

I didn’t ever think I would be able to do this.

Tiffany and I had talked about the idea of going to Amsterdam during our free week.  But even though we had bought our plane tickets and had made it to Amsterdam all by ourselves, it still didn’t feel real.

July 7th arrived and I was beyond excited.

Right after we took our final exam for CWC2 (Christianity in Western Culture) we would be on our way!

In our ambition to not be late, we arrived extremely early at the train station. But that wasn’t too bad because it guaranteed that we would get on our train.

However, once we arrived in Nuremberg, we had to figure out how to get from the train station to the airport for our flight to Amsterdam.

This was a little bit harder than we expected. The line for customer service was so long that we wouldn’t have time to stand and wait for someone to tell us where to go.

So, like normal Americans, we walked around trying to find someone who spoke English who could point us in the right direction!

It wasn’t very long before we found an employee who was really helpful to inform us not only where to go, but also how to say airport in German just in case we got lost.

We found the subway and made it to the airport.

The Nuremberg airport is not very large, so making it through check-in and security went really fast. But once you walk through security, there are very few options for food. So we shared a pretzel roll and ate our snacks that we had brought with us.

Our flights were uneventful and smooth. Our connection in Frankfurt was at the opposite end of the terminal so it literally took us 15 minutes to walk (with the moving walkways) to our next gate.



After making it to Amsterdam, we picked up our luggage and then grabbed dinner since it would take us around an hour to make it to our hostel we were staying at.

After figuring out which bus we need to take to our hostel, we settled in for a 40 minute ride. After a few stops, the bus cleared out and we were able to sit down for the rest of the ride.

The bus stop was just a few blocks from the hostel which was really nice because we were really tired of dragging our luggage with us.

That first night in Amsterdam was just the beginning of relaxing and enjoying a break from our group.

The hostel was having a movie night, so we attended under the assumption that the movie “The Hiding Place” was going to be shown. But they couldn’t find the DVD of The Hiding Place (it was hiding) so we watched the “Bucket List” instead.

Tiffany and I went to bed early and slept in the next morning. (until 8:30 a.m.)

And a pleasant surprise waited for us at breakfast…

Hot breakfast! Who knew that after being in Europe for 6 weeks that we would miss a hot breakfast so much. Pancakes were so wonderful we were both so excited about them!!

All through Italy, Switzerland, and Germany, there is no such thing as a hot breakfast. What Europeans have for breakfast is some sort of roll (in Italy it was most likely a croissant) with different cheese and cold cuts of meat (but who knows what type of meat it is). There is also yogurt and granola and always Nutella or jam for on the rolls but peanut butter is a luxury!!

I normally hate peanut butter, but boy-oh-boy does it taste so good here! But we didn’t even get the option to have peanut butter until we arrived here in Regensburg, Germany.

It was raining on our first day (July 8th), so we decided to walk around the city and explore Amsterdam.

Now I know what you’re thinking…two American girls in Amsterdam all by themselves….how safe is that?

Totally safe.

(Minus the smell of “weed” everywhere because it is legal here and the Red Light district that we saw from a few blocks away through the fog.)

I never felt like I was in a sketchy place though. But then again we didn’t go walking down every dark alley looking for trouble.

We did however get lost.

Sort of.

Looking at the map you can see that Amsterdam is laid out in a semi-circle. So you may be walking down a road thinking that you’re going straight (because you are). But in reality, you’ve been walking on a curve…..which totally throws you off and then you have no idea where you are on the map.

Plus, there are canals just about every other street which is also confusing because you can’t really rely on the fact that you crossed over the canal three times, because you might have to cross over it more than three times on your way back if you’re in a different area than you thought!

So, after looking at our map and determining that there was no way we could figure out where we were on the map, we decided to retrace our steps back to our hostel.

We made it back safely!

Since Tiffany and I are on a tight budget, we weren’t going to eat out every day, so we found a local grocery store and stocked up on the necessities to get us through the next week.

What are necessities you might ask?

Well, you know…

Nutella, pretzles, crackers, croissants, pop-tarts, and about a pound of cherries (which we ate all at once….the cherries, that is.)

Of course all this is totally nutritious, and my mother would probably be willing to call it a “balanced” meal. (Or maybe not.)

But there are things you do when in college that you hope to never have to do ever again in your life!

Once again, we went to bed early and slept in…with the anticipation now of having hot breakfast again in the morning!

French Toast.

My prayer was one of thanksgiving before eating this meal!

It was still raining so we decided to visit the Rijksmuseum and appreciate some art for a few hours.


I may be a communications major, but I am not the biggest fan of art museums.

This museum, however, was lots of fun!

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I want to highlight a few pictures that I thought were really cool to see in person.

First, these spears were so cool!

IMG_3021(This picture has not been edited with a vignette…the light was just that way in real life)

Second, check out these canons



I just thought they were super cool designs! Who knew that such things would be considered for art projects.

Waterloo – Rembrandt


This was just amazing. The sheer size of it was unbelievable.


I was also blown away by the life-likeness of each of the people in the painting. They all looked real. If I didn’t know better, I would say that the quality was comparable to a photograph. IMG_3043

And finally, I didn’t realize what I was looking at until I noticed the girl in this picture.
Check it out!

NightwatchNightwatch – Rembrandt

I had no idea this painting would be so beautiful.

The funny thing was that “Fashion Week” was happening while we were at the museum. So randomly while we were walking through the museum there would suddenly be models walking through with someone either singing or playing guitar or violin.

Super weird.

Why? No one knows.

After the museum we went out to take pictures by the I amsterdam sign.




It wasn’t really raining very hard anymore, so we could enjoy being outside a little more.

It was past lunch time, but not dinner yet, so we ate some snacks and went back to our hostel.IMG_2625


Tiffany and I started doing homework and checking up with the rest of the world on facebook later that afternoon and evening.

I was able to skype my family and let them know some of the fun things we had been able to do!

I went to bed with high anticipation for the next day….

Stay tuned for the Corrie ten Boom House!!!

Dachau Concentration Camp

Just the word Dachau makes me sad.

This day trip to Dachau was hanging over my head as soon as we arrived in Germany.

I knew we would be visiting this concentration camp and I wasn’t really excited about it.

I only took a few pictures. It was too awful to want to remember.

When we first arrived, I was walking through the museum that is set up in one of the main buildings. It was so horrific….even more than I realized.

I felt like the walls were closing in on me.

I couldn’t breathe. 

I needed to get some air. So I walked outside and sat down in the main courtyard.

I felt sick.

It was just so awful. How do you reconcile in your mind the horror and terror that was inflicted on so many innocent people?

You can’t.

I looked around at everything and talked to God.  In my heart I was struggling to understand where was God when such evil was being forced upon so many people – especially His chosen people!

I then walked across the courtyard and looked in one of the barracks that are still standing. Most of the buildings have been leveled to the ground. But seeing the barracks that more than 1000 people would be forced to sleep and live in was just as overwhelming as it sounds. There was literally no room.
No room at all. 

I then walked down the center road that would’ve been lined with more barracks but they have all been torn down. Instead there are just outlines of cement with rocks  showing where each of the buildings had previously been.

At the end of the road there are three different memorials set up. The first one is the Christian/Catholic  memorial, to the right was a memorial specifically for the Jews and to the left was another one which I’m not sure what it was for.

I turned and went towards the back left of the camp.

Just past the trench and barbed wire fence and cement walls they have built a bridge for tourists to go across to where the crematorium is at.

I knew that even though I was emotionally overwhelmed by everything I was seeing that I still needed to go and see the inside of the crematorium.

I slowly walked over to where a large house-like building was with very large chimneys coming out of the roof.

After walking through the 4 rooms, my heart was broken. I don’t know how to explain the feeling of devastation anymore than that.

The first room was a waiting room to go into the “showers” where each of the prisoners brought there would be instructed on using the “showers”. But in reality the “shower” was just a facade. There wasn’t a shower even though the Nazi’s put fake faucets in the room to make the prisoners more cooperative during the process. But instead of showers it was actually a gas room.

Moving into the gas chamber was a chilling place to be. I saw the fake faucets and the vents where the gas would be pumped into the room.

The oven room was next where they would dispose of the bodies. The death rate at Dachau was so high that they didn’t have enough room to bury bodies which is why the crematorium was built in the first place.

No prisoners were brought into the ovens alive at Dachau. Only dead bodies were cremated here.

The next room was where prisoners who had died in the camp would be brought so they could be cremated.

Just outside the crematorium building are sites where the ashes would be dumped. There was such a large amount of ashes that they had to keep digging more and more “graves” (pits) to dump the ashes.




A short walk down a path in the woods behind the crematorium shows the camp’s outside wall where some prisoners were shot and killed if they weren’t killed in the gas chambers or killed by being worked to death or sickness.


I left the area where the crematorium was and walked back towards the front of the camp.

I cried the whole way there.

There are no words.

There is no way to explain the pain and evil that I saw that day.

I knew that if I did not process through the hurt and pain I was feeling that I would end up hurting myself even more.

So I went to our designated meeting area and talked to two of the guys about what I was feeling and the whole experience.

Then Ashley came by and read a Psalm to those of us sitting around. I was so grateful to be reminded of the faithfulness of God. Even though I had just walked through and experienced a place of such terrible evil, I know the One who has rescued me from a worse fate.

To say the least, we didn’t talk much on the way back to Regensburg. It was a quiet train ride.


Nuremberg – 4th of July

On the 4th of July we traveled on the train to the city of Nuremberg.

It was here that the Nazi regime held their huge party conventions. Hitler planned to have many buildings or stadiums built to hold hundreds of thousands of people for their assemblies.

The Zeppelinfeld stadium
The Luitpold Arena
Congress Hall (Which is now the Dokumentation Centre)
Municipal Stadium
The Great Road
German Stadium – was started but never finished

We toured the Documentation center which is now just a museum explaining all about the Nazi party and how Hitler came into power.  Although the building was never finished, the north wing holds the museum.

I did not enjoy this trip.

I’m not sure you’re supposed to enjoy learning about a time in history where one man was the instigator of such terror and horror in the world.

But, the Nazi regime was a real part of history and I understand the importance of learning from the past in hopes of not repeating it in the future.

As you can tell, I did not take any pictures here. First, because there wasn’t anything to really take pictures of, and secondly because the lighting in the museum was very dark.

But after we toured the Documentation center we took the tram back into the medieval part of Nuremberg to tour the city.


Nuremberg is more than just the center for the Reich Party Rally grounds. In the old town of Nuremberg, there are Gothic churches and a mix between medieval and modern, between the past and the present.

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It is always fascinating to me to see an entire city that looks like it stepped out of the early 17th century and yet is covered in modern stores and restaurants.

The second oldest bratwurst stand is here in Nuremberg.


Gingerbread is famous here as well as a Toy Museum. During the Christmas season there is one of the largest Kris Kringle markets here!


One of the coolest things was that there is a castle here in the city. We walked through town and made it up to the Luginsland tower.

IMG_3016Here are some of my friends spelling out the word MOODY!

IMG_3017I did not walk all the way up in to the castle because this still wasn’t long after I was sick. Yep, even days after I had the flu I was still recovering.

So, since I wanted to head back to Regensburg early, a few other girls and I walked back through town to grab some dinner and wait for the train.

It was here that we ran into a Dunkin Donuts store! I figured that since it was the 4th of July, the most American thing we could do was to get some donuts to celebrate!

IMG_2583 They even had a raspberry filled “American flag” donut just for the occasion!

IMG_2585And if you know anything about me then you know this donut made my day happy….with sprinkles!

Later on that day Germany won one of the games during the World Cup. The whole city sounded much like the US does on the 4th of July. Everyone was out in the streets, in their cars, holding their flag, honking like crazy, and fireworks going off all over as they celebrated Germany’s win in the football game!

I commented to my friends that if I didn’t know any better I would think I was somewhere in the US, but the dead give away was that they were holding the wrong flag!

Not my most favorite way to spend the 4th, but next year hopefully I’ll be able to spend the day with my family!



Regensburg – the beginning

This is just the beginning of our time here in Regensburg.


We arrived here on July 2nd but would only be here for a few days before we had our “free week” to travel around wherever we would like for 5 days.

But for a few days we were able to see this lovely town that we will spend the rest of our time in.


The next day we walked along the Danube river and explored the heart of medieval Regensburg.

This is also the hometown of Oscar Schindler (Schindler’s List). We walked by his house in town.


We were able to tour one of the churches here in Regensburg. Interesting fact about Regensburg is that there are about 8 or 9 churches within 3 city blocks. So wherever you look there’s probably a church.

But specifically, we were able to tour St. Emmeram’s church.

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This church has been decorated in the Rococo style, or as my musician friends would know, as late Baroque style. In the late 18th century the style of art was very….what’s the word….grandiose!

As seen in the pictures, St. Emmeram’s is very beautiful, but full of gold plated everything! It’s a little overwhelming to walk into.

Our tour guide/the local priest of the church, did not speak any  English, so we had a translator tell us all that he was saying about the church.

And just in case it makes any difference, Pope Francis came to this church last year and blessed the organ. I have no idea what that means, but apparently the organ is blessed.

The reason we’re all sitting in the one chair is because that is the “Pope’s” chair. It is the seat that he was sitting in when he blessed the organ.

Of course we all thought that was hilarious, and so we took turns sitting in the pope’s chair!

IMG_2972Rob is my “attendant” and I’m the Pope here!