Saturday, February 2, 2019

Adventures from a Far Away Country

About two years ago our daughter began to talk to us about studying abroad.  She had narrowed her focus in her studies to the Spanish language and found she had a great affinity for speaking Spanish.  This past week her dream became a reality! It was hard for this momma's heart to let our little "baby" (22-years-old) girl fly halfway across the world, and live there for four months, but we knew it would be a tremendous asset to her dream of becoming fluent in the Spanish language.

We held a little going-away party for our daughter and her friends to come and wish her goodbye. Homemade pizza was her special request :)
I also set out snacks for everyone to enjoy as they came and visited with Danielle and said their goodbyes to her.
The day before she left on her adventure, the heavens opened up and spilled buckets of snow on our world. 

Together we took the dogs on a walk after the snow stopped, and the sun came out.          

We hadn't seen the sun in days, so the sunshine was soaked up and enjoyed immensely!

The night before she left, I cooked a roast chicken dinner for us to enjoy as a last meal with her before leaving. 

For her flight "across the pond", she boarded a large jumbo jet. The flight lasted 9 hours overnight and landed in London. She enjoyed her flight on this huge plane that seated 9 across x 64 rows. A blanket, pillow, headphones were provided to all passengers, as well as an evening and breakfast meal were served on the plane.  She really enjoyed the flight. 

Danielle traveled with a group called AIFS who took care of all the travel arrangements.  They flew to London where they spent a couple of days exploring and then would fly on to Spain.  The AIFS rep took them to Lancaster Gate Hotel. 
A picture of the room she shared with another AIFS student. Small but cozy ambiance!
She got to see a lot of sights in London in a short amount of time!  Here is a picture outside Kensington Palace. 

A picture of the iconic phone booths found in London. Not sure if they are still in use or not. 

A visit to St. Paul's Cathedral Tea Room! 

A sampling of the yummy desserts available for tea. 

The London bridge is falling down, falling down... :) 

Another glimpse of the London bridge and surrounding area. 


Getting a meal at one of the local restaurants.

Some of the interesting buildings found throughout London.

Then it was onward to Spain.  Landing in the city of Malaga, they traveled by bus to Granada where she will be studying. Some pictures of the countryside through the window of the bus.

Upon arrival in Granada they were taken to their host family where her host mother Adela prepared a special meal for her.  This is a Spanish tortilla which is different from the Mexican tortilla that we know.  A Spanish tortilla is more like an omelette made with potato and egg. The tortilla was served with a light salad. 

Charros - fried bread dipped in chocolate, has become a quick favorite of hers!

She has been touring the beautiful city of Granada this week before classes start up next week.  This is a picture of Alhambra, a beautiful castle located there with a lot of history!

She is touring Madrid this weekend and has told us of the incredible beauty and architecture found there in Madrid.  Her classes start Monday in Granada. She had to take an examination to test her Spanish abilities, and she placed in the upper intermediate and will be able to take all of the classes she had hoped to.  They will all be in Spanish, which will be a challenge for her, but she is up to it. Already when we are talking, she is speaking in a mixture of English and Spanish! She has a wonderful host mother who cooks her three meals a day and is as kind and helpful as she can be.

We are so excited about this great adventure that she is on, and while we miss her terribly, we are thankful for all her hard work that made this adventure possible. She worked hard to raise all of the money to go on this trip (over 13,000.00)!  She will return home the end of May, and while we miss her, we are so thankful that she has this opportunity to experience the Spanish culture and language!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Million-Dollar World

On a recent walk with my two walking companions, Annie-girl and Riley, the world around me was full of sparkles, and as I walked I thought... how lucky am I to be walking in a Million-Dollar World... and thus the following was written once I got home...

Pulling back the darkness in gentle swaths of light,
the sun’s rays push warm fingers of liquid gold across the skies. 

Misty fog gingerly hovers below the horizon, 
shimmering in the delight of the sun’s warmth. 

Old Man Jack Frost has left his mark overnight, and the world lies
stiff and unmoving in the frigid grasp of frosts’ embrace. 

As morning pushed back the night, and day hugged the darkness goodbye,
I step outside, leaving the warmth of my home to welcome the new day. 

The earth below my feet crunches and my breath hangs close to me. 

The chilled air awakens my senses, as my steps begin a cadence of rhythm
with the dogs who eagerly greet the morning with me. 

Walking step-in-step together, the cold nipping at our cheeks,
we lift our faces to the sun and soak in the brilliance of her offering.

And then I see why the world is hushed in quietness
and the dregs of cold are silenced in the moment. 

A million, a billion, no a trillion glittering jewels beckon to me
as the sun’s rays grace them. 

Each petal, stem and golden leaf are clamoring in their bid for my attention… 
See me? See me?
Adorned in exquisitely jeweled shimmering frost,
made beautiful by the glint of the sun’s rays,
each tender stem shivered as the light’s fanciful touch
transformed them into a mass choir of dancing joy.

Mesmerized by the million-dollar world dancing before me, I saw each jeweled plant calling out to me, twinkling in its moment of grandeur, grasping for my attention.

Could I pick but one, I wondered? I reached out to touch the million tiny diamonds twinkling on the leaf, but its grandeur vanished at my touch. 

It was not for me to hold.  It was not for me to have. 

It was for me to gaze upon in the darting moment of time and soak up its beauty deep within my soul… this moment of grandeur was not mine to take.  It was mine for now, for just that moment. 

I stood there, humbled to be here, in this million-dollar world hugging my heart in its joy. 

The gift of the moment soaked into my soul, and I bowed my head in thankfulness to the Creator, the One who crafted this moment of splendor for my delight. 

Then… just as time marches on impatiently, I too had to turn and walk on with those impatient dogs… they did not see the world I had just stepped into, they had work to do and I had held up their progress. 

But for the moment, for that piece of time, the morning jewels and I had embraced, and part of their glamor now rested in my soul. 

Just as that moment brushed my soul with its glory… time in its impatient work propelled me onward and forward.  But no one can ever take from me the joy of knowing I walked in a million-dollar world. 

Time marches on
and no moment can ever last forever
But it can be stored safe 
in the depths of my heart,
knowing that it is not mine to hold or grasp in my hands,
but in my soul 
this moment lives on, forever...

My encounter with heaven in a million-dollar world.

As I walked on, this song I heard recently begin to sing in my heart, and I want to share it with you, may you be blessed in the delights that only our Great Creator can design!

I have nothing but praise for you Lord! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

2018 Christmas Memories

How did it get to be January 2019 so quickly? Reflecting back on Christmas 2018, it was a beautifully sweet and blessed time as we did not enter into the "rush" of things that is so prevalent this time of year, but rather focused on sweet, simple, meaningful and the small joys.

Today I am sharing some pictures of the days leading up to Christmas, and the holiday season here.

Beautiful colors in the skies dazzle...

It makes getting up early in the morning for my walk easier!

Every color of the rainbow spread in dabbles of color...

Walking with my husband on icy roads, as the sun diffuses through the fog.

The skies dominate the world with the diffused sun and clouds.

Annie-girl's pensive expression as she walks, always alert and on duty...

Can't get enough of these gorgeous snow-covered firs...

The girls come out to greet us each day as we walk by.

I think they want to walk with us!

Something about the continuity of fence lines always captivates me.

Another brilliant sunrise announcing the new day as we begin our walk.

I walk past this red barn every day... the morning light gracing its worn walls.  

Walking 5 miles of icy roads with these two in the brisk crisp mornings is always a great way to start the day.

The ice and snow covered lake sits quietly and still beneath the icy covering. 
Our family made our traditional Paintbrush Cookies together. 

I make a tray for each family member and we have fun painting them.  
The recipe... 

Pecan pie is always a favorite at Christmas. 

On Christmas morning, we always read the story of the birth of Jesus together. 

Our simple and traditional Christmas dinner.

After the dishes were done, I boxed up leftovers from the meal and delivered them to 6 of our friends who weren't able to enjoy a home cooked Christmas dinner. It was a great way to share the joy of Christmas! 

As I was out feeding the chickens the morning after Christmas, this brilliant sunrise greeted me while I was in the coop.  It lasted just a few seconds, but the brilliance of the colors was stunning!

After a roast turkey dinner, I always boil the bones down to make bone broth.

Each season seems to pass more quickly than the last! The anticipated holidays are now but a memory in our hearts and the season of winter is here.  I enjoy winter because it is a time of rest... the soil is at rest and is being nourished by the snow.  Days pass quietly with cozy moments sprinkled throughout the day, and often a cup of tea is nestled in my hands as I look out upon the landscape.  Walking each day gets me outside to enjoy the quiet still beauty of the winter months.  I enjoy this season of winter and savor its beautiful moments.  Soon enough spring will be here with its blooms, sunshine, and warmth.  

But for now, I choose to enjoy the restful days that winter brings us.  :)  How about you?