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Category Archives: my life

Friday’s Simple Pleasures

Before I head out the door tonight to run our youth outreach “The Element Youth” (which is what we do every Friday night), I thought I’d share a few of my simple pleasures from this past week.  My mom and Justin can vouch for the few things that I’ve kinda been hooked on lately.  But as much as they bug the heck out of me… they’re partially to blame for my cravings (especially Mom).

#1 Simple Pleasure of the week: I can’t get enough of Cherry Blossoms… I don’t know another soul who likes these as much as I do… but I don’t care.  (I’ve eaten 4 this week!!)

Are there any other Cherry Blossom lovers out there?  I. love. cherries.

#2 Simple Pleasure of the week: Malcolm Gladwell’s book “BLINK”.  I loved  Outliers so much that I asked for his other two books for Christmas.

Tell me you’ve read his stuff.  If you haven’t… I’ll let you in on a secret.  It’s shameful for me to share.  I feel like people judge me when I tell them.  So I hate saying it… I don’t like to read.  Almost ever.  I mean, I read my Bible… and blogs…………. but other than that, I have a hard time sitting down with a book to read.  BUT if you give me something by Malcolm Gladwell or Donald Miller, I’m usually loving my life (because I’m actually reading).

#3 Simple Pleasure of the week:  And with this, I digress 🙂  Thanks to my lovely mother who showed me how to play Bubble Pop on her phone.  I quickly found a similar app for my iphone and I’m hooked.  I’m laughing out loud thinking about last week when my mom was visiting and wanted to go to Square One.  So Justin and I went with her… except I didn’t shop at all.  I was like a total guy, sitting outside the stores on the nearest bench and playing Bubble Pop.  My mom (and Justin) were stunned at my lack of shopping interest.  They wanted to have a Bubble Pop intervention for me… but I didn’t want anything to do with that 🙂

So I guess I have no complaints for this week.  I mean, really, I don’t think I’m allowed to complain… It’s been good.   There’s obviously a lot going on in the world and so I sit here and I just feel blessed wondering what can be done for some of those Haitians who will never have the chance to experience some of our simple pleasures.

But amazingly enough, I’ve been overwhelmed at how people are coming together to give…. generously.  AWESOME.  I love it.

I hope you have a pleasing weekend enjoying some of your simple pleasures 🙂


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a great husband + a sweet cake + silly friends = my birthday

Happy Birthday to ME!!!!  Well… it was my birthday on Sunday and my wonderful husband Justin threw me a small party.  He asked me awhile ago: “Do you think I could throw you a party?” “Of course,” I said.  Then an hour later he asked “how many people should I invite?”.  Of course I laughed and told him to do what he wanted.  He’s too funny.

I’m proud to say that he did it all himself with no help from me.  We had such a great time… It had been awhile since I had a party because my birthday is pretty close to Christmas which means most people are either all partied out or busy with other things. Of course all you December babies know how it feels… right?! But this year I think Justin felt bad for me since I’ve been so MIGHTY SICK with this little baby growing inside of me!

Anyway, I had to share a few photos that he took of me, my sweet cake, and some of my silly friends 🙂  ENJOY!

Soooo there’s this woman, Diane, who goes to my church and she makes these amazing cakes.

I don’t think she’s been doing it long…but MAN DOES THIS CAKE ROCK or WHAT?!!!

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Yep, it’s true, I’m 27…

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When most of the people had left… it was pretty late and Justin & Nathan dragged us all to the studio to take some of the silliest photos I’ve ever seen of my friends.

(Here’s hoping they’re still my friends after they see that I’ve posted these 🙂

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Gotta love Value Village!

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Mel's Bday  005 Sooooooo funny & yucky… Sarah found some old tissues in the pockets of these old shorts!!! LOL!!

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Mel's Bday  003THANKS hun for all of the effort that you put into my birthday!  Love you!

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there’s a time to work & a time to play | Italy 2009

We know it.  It’s true.  Justin & I are blessed, lucky, fortunate, serendipitous, privileged… whatever you’d like to call it 🙂  It’s been an amazing year of travel for us and we haven’t taken it for granted.  From the lovely coasts of Western Australia to the beaches of Jamaica; the bumpy roads of Zambia to the waterways of Venice.  I still can’t believe we’ve been to 4 continents and 9 countries; We’ve taken 31 flights and thousands of photos!

When we decided to take a trip to Italy to celebrate 5 years of marital bliss, we were excited…. but didn’t realize that we wouldn’t have time to plan more than our bed & breakfast for the first 3 nights (and even that was a friends’ last minute suggestion)!  Weeks leading to our trip, I started fretting a bit about not having any plans (I love to plan!) when we arrived to Venice.  But the busyness of wedding season didn’t stop, and it wasn’t until I was on the plane that I started reading about what we would actually do when we got there.

So as you watch this video and look at these photos… think: unexpected, impromptu, surprise!  Because almost everything we saw and did was exactly that for us!

One of our first photos we took in the little town of Chioggia (aka “mini Venice”)

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Our B&B in Chioggia… 5 levels.  We stayed on the bottom floor and ate breakfast on the top floor!

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Gino, the homeowner, made sure we knew there were 72 steps to the top.  The view was amazing!

Italy 2009  005 Italy 2009  006Oh Venice… how I love getting “lost” in all of your random streets and alleys.

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The BEST pasta I had on our whole trip… fagotini!  YUMMY!

Italy 2009  009Totally loved being serenaded by the accordionists while eating fagotini… SO Italy 🙂

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walking or boating… your two choices of transportation!

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Justin snapped this photo, early in the morning, of a grocer bringing in the produce for the day!

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Italy 2009  018love this!!

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My FAVOURITE photo of the trip

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Yes we HAD to experience the GONDOLA.  Here’s our gondolier:

Italy 2009  007Not everyone takes the short boat ride to the near island of Murano (where they make all of the glass that you buy in Venice), but it was SO worth it!

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I thought I’d be bored at the OPERA… but NOPE it was so amazing especially since they were all dressed in the baroque style garb.

Italy 2009  042 Italy 2009  045 Italy 2009  048Now to ROMA… Our first stop: The Spanish Steps.

There were only a few tourists.

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This is where we ran into Nigel Lythgoe… but before we could talk to him or take his picture, he walked into this shoe store!!

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Rome at night = AWESOME!  We slept in many days because we loved the cool and lively nights!

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St. Peter’s Basilica

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The famous Coliseum

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Ancient Rome… this is where the saying “all roads lead to Rome” comes from.  We’re right in the center!

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LOL!!! One afternoon, we were sitting on a bench, reading and resting, then suddenly we were surrounded by hundreds of Vespas and a wedding party!

I guess I can’t get away from wedding photography 🙂

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Here are some more night shots, including the Fountain of Trevi:

Italy 2009  088and the Coliseum again…

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Picture this: It’s the end of a long day of walking and we were so tired.  We were trying to find the Metro… and let’s be honest – I was GRUMPY… Until I found this random bakery.

We actually walked by it, but then my nose caught the smell of pastries and I took a few steps back to see stairs leading down to this bakery in the basement of a building. All I could think was THANK YOU GOD!

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On our last day in Rome, we headed to the 2nd largest museum in the world: The Vatican Museum!

The Last Supper

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This is actually worth more than gold!

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The Sistine Chapel = no cameras, no video cameras, no talking, no falling…

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Justin disobeyed and took this shot of The Sistine Ceiling. And I’m so glad he did!

This is the middle scene where God infuses his soul into man (creation) being the most famous (and very small) part of the ceiling.

Painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512.  Brilliant.

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The End.

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You’re never too old for mickey mouse pancakes…

For those of you who have the privilege of knowing Justin personally, you know that he is just one BIG kid!!  He still loves to waste all our quarters on gumball machines, eat chocolate for breakfast, embarrass me in public, and he would choose pancakes “with ears” over ones with blueberries any day.  Of course there are many other reasons why I love him and why he is loved by so many!  I wouldn’t be the only one to say that Justin is someone who is CONTAGIOUS and INSPIRING.

And today that inspiring man is 27!!

I thought it would be fitting to start his day off with Mickey Mouse pancakes… just to remind him that he’s NEVER too old to be young at heart 🙂

Happy Birthday Love!

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African adventure part four : Rwanda

There’s a reason for my crazy Africa week, and here it is: We’ve put up some of our favourite photos from my last trip back in 2007 on our site for you to buy.  In the next month, ALL the proceeds from these print purchases will be donated directly to the building project for our upcoming Zambia trip.  So please –> CLICK HERE <– and purchase a print or two… and pass on the word!

Now onto the last post: RWANDA!!! It was very hard for me to choose which photos to post because we spent just as much time in Rwanda as we did in Kenya… and it has a special place in my heart.  In my mind, because of the genocide, I thought the country would be more rundown, the people downcast… but that was so far from the truth.  There was such hope in the people, and the cities and villages were so beautifully clean and well taken care of (and there were NO POTHOLES).

Our first view at the country


Another welcoming dance party broke out at the church when we arrived… this lady was doing the coolest noise with her tongue!





The view from where we were staying in Kigali “Centre D’acceuil”.




I spent half the time in Kigali teaching some music seminars… the other half was spent in Gitarama at the orphanage site.

Once again, we were welcomed with music, dancing, and drama!


some beautiful orphans



my lovely mother



this is what you call A GRATEFUL SMILE.  Even when it is just a sticker on your hand!


The orphanage and my mom doing what she does best… painting.



We had a big celebration for the opening of the orphanage and hundreds of people showed up… You can see them heading our way in this photo.


View from the orphanage



a beautiful girl in desperate need of some shoes!



A few hours before this next photo was taken, I handed my journal over to my sister Amy and asked her if she remembered the words to a song that I had written. YES I had forgotten my own lyrics.

I just had a feeling that they were going to ask me to play/sing… and I was right.  Thanks to Amy, I wasn’t a complete failure 🙂



We worked alongside the locals


Back in Kigali… we taught them some basic english.


Here’s mom distributing some of the donations we had received



here’s Amy “mowing the lawn”!!!!! I should say “plucking one grass out at a time”!!!!!


I’m very grateful for this man who was with me all week long.  As I spoke at the seminars, he watched my camera gear and was SO kind to me!!

Here he is with his wife.


At the end of our trip… we headed to the genocide memorial in Kigali.  No photos allowed inside of course, but here’s a few from the grounds.




this flame never goes out in remembrance of all who were slaughtered and killed


As I mentioned before.  All the photos from my AFRICA POSTS are available on the website for purchase. Every penny will go to our upcoming Zambia trip.

I hope y’all have an amazing weekend!!  I’m spending my weekend with 2000 teenagers, then heading to B.C. for a few shoots.

I’ll be posting those photos later next week!


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