February 27, 2017

28 Before 29

Last year, I posted my handwritten list of 27 Before 28, which were 27 things I wanted to do before I turned 28 years old. I've made a list like this for most of my twenties, and while I usually don't accomplish everything, it's nice to have some goals for the year. I actually quite prefer this to any type of New Year's resolutions, but that's just me :)

Rather than sharing my handwritten list again this year, I'll share some of the things I accomplished from my 28 Before 29 list. I'm pretty sure I said something just like this last year, but turning twenty-nine isn't a time in my life I ever really thought about. However, so far, so good. I was spoiled on my birthday again this year in Romania. I have such a fabulous inner circle here and I am so insanely grateful for that. They sure know how to make a girl feel special on her birthday! Anyways, enjoy a look back into my 28th year of life...

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Read some books (and keep a list). I go through major reading phases. Sometimes I read a ton of books in a week, and other times I read a handful of books in a year. This year, it was the latter...I didn't read as much as I would have liked, but that's that. A few of the books I read this year include Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis (second time reading this but soooo good), Cross and Crescent by Colin Chapman, Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I also partially read a handful of books, which include When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett, Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst, Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs, I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't) by Brene Brown, etc. Maybe my goal for my 29th year should be to finish all of those books before starting new ones...we shall see.

Athens, Greece
Novi Sad, Serbia
Travel to another European country. I was actually able to travel to a number of European countries in this last year. Some were just driven through, but I did actually set foot in each one...and added the passport stamps to my passport! I traveled to Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Macedonia, and Bulgaria. Hoping to add at least two more this coming year...

the Soil & the Sun
Rooftop access at the secret show
Go to at least one concert. While I was in the States over the summer/fall, I was able to attend a secret show of the band the Soil & the Sun. A few members of this band attended Olivet and I've followed them a bit since graduating. The show was in this old warehouse with rooftop access and it was incredible. It didn't hurt that I was able to attend with two of my favorite pals!

Chocolate chip banana bread
Cook 10 new recipes. Although the banana bread is out of focus in the photo, I did make it and it was delicious. Checking this item off of my list was a bit of a stretch, but the main goal was to cook more, which I did...kind of. I think I just need to accept that cooking isn't for me. Can we all agree on that? Great. Thanks.

Blog planning while home in summer 2016
Blog at least once a month. I allllmost completed this one. I still need to work on being more consistent with the blog, which is why I'm copying this goal onto the 29 Before 30 list ;)

Serbia - March 2016
Get out of your comfort zone. Following the call to serve the refugees in Croatia and Serbia in March 2016 was waaaaay outside of my comfort zone. It's funny because it totally was out of my comfort zone at the time, but looking back it doesn't feel like it was that outside of my comfort zone. I'm not sure if that makes sense to anyone but me, but that's that. Insert a visual with "the magic happens outside of your comfort zone" here. 

It Takes Courage - June 2016
My three weirdos
Invest in at least one Romanian teen. Checking this one off of my list makes me smile...partially because I feel like I was able to exceed my goal and partially because I just love the teens that I was able to invest in. Co-leading It Takes Courage and ITC 2.0, helping lead the volunteers at the Veritas Kids' Club, English camp and other opportunities have allowed me to invest in multiple Romanian teens...and I love it! I hope (and know) that this will continue into the 29th year!

Celebrating Kids' Club birthdays - February 2017
Photos given to the kids before I left for the States in July 2016
Invest in at least one Romanian child. Don't even get me started on this one. I think I've made it fairly obvious how much I absolutely love my sweet Romanian kiddos. They bring so much joy to my life, and the more Romanian I learn, the more I can really communicate and understand them and it's just so lovely. Run-on sentence, but I'll sacrifice grammar for the sake of expressing my love for them :) There is one kiddo that I've been able to really build a relationship with and I just love every minute we get to spend together. God has already taught me so much through my investment in him, which I really should state as God's investment in him through me. Again, I hope (and know) that this will continue into the 29th year, and for that I am forever thankful. 

Ice skating in December 2016
Conquer a fear. Boy, oh boy, did I conquer a fear! I know it seems silly, but ice skating has always been a huge fear of mine. I'm so afraid that I'll fall and someone will skate over my hand, slicing my fingers off. Crazy and seemingly irrational, but also totally NOT irrational at the same time. Anyways, I did it. I ice skated. And I did not fall once. I was majorly encouraged by my ITC teens. I couldn't have (and wouldn't have) done it without them. 

Once a pretzel, always a pretzel.
Attend my 10 year high school reunion. I still can't believe that I'm old enough to have a 10 year high school reunion. Nor can I believe the fact that I attended my 10 year reunion. High school was definitely not an enjoyable time for me and therefore, I had no plans to attend my reunion. And seeing that I live kiiinda far away from home, I didn't think I'd even be in town (or in the country) for it. But I was...and it was alright. I went with two of my besties so being with them for the night was the best part. I was able to catch up with one classmate which was nice, and then made small talk with a handful of others. It wasn't as bad as I thought...but it also wasn't that exciting. 

My only proof of a photo book. Bottom left.
Make a photo book. I loooove photo books. I have a lot of plans for photo books, but not a lot of money to actually make them. The only photo book that I made this year ended up being filled with photos from my time in Croatia and Serbia in March 2016. It's one of my favorite things and sadly I ended up leaving it back home in the States. 

Bonus photos of a much younger me
Well, that's that! My 28th year in a blog post. It was a year full of unexpected adventures and opportunities. It was a year full of love, hope, courage, empathy, and so much more. I can only hope that my 29th year continues to be full of all of these things and maybe a few surprises along the way. Wait...who am I?! Anyways, here's to 29!

February 19, 2017

If we were having coffee...v2

I've found that it's much easier for me to blog when I have a bit of a guide. Hence, the Currently series and now the second version of "If we were having coffee..." Hope you don't mind, dear readers! So grab your favorite coffee mug and let's chat...

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you that life has been CRAZY over here for the last few weeks. I wish I could show you my schedule from the last month. I printed out a schedule for the new students who arrived in mid-January (more on this in my next point), but it has been overtaken by blue ink as I've crossed out, written in, circled, noted, etc. ALL OVER IT. It's actually quite pretty in a neurotic type of way.

This is NOT the calendar mentioned above. This is a calendar photographed on January 1st...before the madness began.
If we were having coffee...I'd tell you about the four American university students who are completing social work practicums under my supervision until mid-April. I'd tell you that it's been an enjoyable challenge from which I've already learned a lot. I've only supervised one student at a time (one in the fall of 2015 and the other in the summer of 2016), with the exception of a three-week group of 5 students in May 2015 Let's just say that there is a big difference between supervising one student and supervising four students, as if that's not fairly obvious. And like I said, it's been challenging, but I've come to this interesting place in my life where I've come to appreciate challenges. I understand now that being stretched and challenged isn't all bad. Yes, sometimes it feels like too much and I do get overwhelmed, but I've also learned (and continue to learn) how to keep going...

Who knew homework could be so cute?
If we were having coffee...I'd probably talk, for a good hour or so, about my kiddos at the Veritas Kids' Club. I haven't been able to be there nearly as much as I'd like to be since the students arrived and I MISS THEM SO MUCH. I've been able to go about once a week, but it's just not enough. I miss so much and they're getting so big and I just want to be with them all of the time. From the start, I knew that Kids' Club wouldn't always be the main focus (of my work in Romania), but transitioning out of it has been harder than expected. I don't know if a group of children has ever captured me like these children have. I cannot get enough of them and their darling little faces, hearts, souls, etc. Insert the heart eyes emoji here.

Fresh baby Maveric
If we were having coffee...I'd definitely tell you about my NEW NEPHEW!!! Is he not the cutest little thing?! So dang sweet. I cannot wait to snuggle him! My sister and I FaceTime A LOT these days just so I can "be there". He's sleeping the majority of the time when we FaceTime, but no complaints here. He's a cute sleeper. I'm working on arranging a short trip back to the States in the near future to see him...and the rest of my family :)

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you about my 2017 project. There's an app out there called 1 Second Everyday, which is a simple and fun app for documenting life. As you can gather from the name, it serves as a video diary of 1 second videos, which "stitches videos (and photos, if you prefer) together to document your life's journey". I stole that line from their website. Anyways, I tried to use this app last year, but I wasn't consistent and then kind of gave up. I decided to try again this year and I am LOVING it. I've only had one week where I was so busy that I forgot to record videos, but other than that, I've enjoyed finding little moments in my day to capture for this project. The video above is the complication of my videos from January. My goal is to share my monthly videos on the blog, but we shall see if I can blog often enough to do that ;)

Like last time, I've enjoyed our coffee date. Until next time...