Monday, September 23, 2013

Exchanging God's Truth For A Lie

I'm a Christian. I love God. I thrive to show others God's love. I aim for that to be my daily mission on this earth. We don't have a lot of time here, so we might as well spend it honoring and glorifying God, and hopefully help leading others to Him in the process so that they can be saved. I am by no means perfect. I do not look at others' sins and think less of them. We all sin--whether it was a few days ago when I gave into the desire to gossip, or whether it be lustful thoughts I've had throughout this longggg engagement about being able to "become one" with my future husband after we are married in a few months (Yep, I just went there haha...being real)! Yes, I am human--I am flesh. I don't want to pretend that I have it all together because then I will be diminishing the need I have for Jesus in my life. The truth is, I NEED Jesus. I need Him because He offers me protection, refuge, and grace. I genuinely do not deserve such an unconditional love, packed full with forgiveness and peace, but man am I so thankful for it! I continue to fail and sin, day after day, because that's what we humans do. But to fall into the false notion that because we will always sin we should accept the sin is a wholeeee other sin in itself. But now I'm getting ahead of myself so let me open with a passage that is relevant.
"Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things, rather than the Creator who is forever praised. Amen...Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done...although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things, but also approve of those who practice them" -Romans 1:22-32
Josh and I have been attending a Bible church, meaning in the sermons we are literally taking a few verses each week and breaking them a part. We LOVE this church because we are learning so much and feel like we are growing closer to God because we are looking so closely at His word. We spent the past two weeks really breaking up the above passage from Romans. I don't know about you, but I find that God intentionally uses things you are studying in the word to apply to your life so you can see JUST how omnipotent He is (not that we need proof)! For example, I have never seen this passage be more relevant than where I'm at today.

Last week, my mom called me, struggling because she wanted to share God's truth with a friend who was knowingly doing something he knew the Bible did not support. My mom turned to others around her and found that no one was going to point out to the friend what he already knew--what the Bible said and what he believed to be true. This friend was being pressured by society and others to do something he didn't believe in and NOT ONE of his Christian friends was holding him accountable. At the same time, I remembered Romans 1:32, where it states: "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things, but also approve of those who practice them." This was the particular verse that I had found myself feeling convicted about only a few days before, so I shared it with my mom right away. I knew God had me in that sermon a few days prior to hear that particular message so I could share it with my mom, who was skeptical about helping her friend. For some reason, we have become so convinced that it is better to let our loved ones keep on sinning, rather than saying anything to the,. However this verse suggests to me that by not doing or saying anything, we are approving of their sin. I don't know about you, but the last thing I want to do is approve of my loved one's sin. Another verse that goes along with this is from Galatians 6:1, which states, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently." Now, does this mean every little thing your friend does that annoys you, you have the right to call her out on it? No! This means if someone is stuck in a sin and you are witnessing it and are in a clear place, you should help them by humbly pointing out the ways they might be going astray from God. This is something I feel our society of Christians is failing at because of the politically correct centered aspect of our country today. People are so afraid of offending every one that they would rather not say anything at all. This is hurting us! Galatians 1:10 says, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." This life is not about us, it's aobut HIM! Here's the truth: being politically correct won't get you to heaven or save someone's soul. We need to be more concerned about being BIBLICALLY correct!

Another area I've seen this passage from Romans in society recently is actually in regards to my own school. If you know me, you know I've struggled at APU. I've never exactly felt safe in regards to my thinking on campus. It seems as if most my peers come to college and want to abandon any "traditional values" they might have received from their parents, thus adapting an "anything goes" outlook to awkwardly coincide with their Christian beliefs. As you can imagine, humanism or post-modernism alongside Christianity doesn't really make sense. Here is a clear example: this past week, a theology teacher at APU went to her boss and her classes and reported that she had decided to become a man over the summer. She said she had always struggled with the "gender assigned to her at birth." Thus, APU reportedly said she was not allowed to continue teaching, but would remain on contract until the summer. I respect APU for actually sticking to Biblical principles, however much of the community disagrees. Articles have been posted on abc, cbs, yahoo news, huffington post, buzzfeed, etc., leading to an outcry of LGBTQ members and supporters alike. There is an online petition up, asking for APU to become a "safe place" for such students. This is where I look to Romans 1, where it talks about exchanging God's truth for a lie. How can a teacher of theology, someone who has studied the Bible for decades, decide to become a man and act like it isn't defying God's creation and become upset with the private Christian institution for not paying for her procedures to change her gender, the gender GOD assigned to her. This is how I see it: God is perfect. God's design is perfect. God made man, and then He made woman. I fully believe that like in the Psalm, we are knitted together in our mother's womb, and God already knows all of the days of our lives. God made each and every one of us. In my opinion, and what I expected my peers' opinions to somewhat relate to, is that when we change what God has made, we are saying His way isn't good enough, isn't right, etc. I just am very confused to see so many students surprised that our Christian school would not approve of a teacher deciding to change her gender, going against the religious contract she signed when she first came onto teach at the private university. From what I've seen, the school is being extremely respectful and loving towards her (which is right, we are called to love everyone). Their decision to follow the Bible and the contract they require teachers to abide by should not be surprising and should be applauded. I finally can agree with something my school has done.

I'm sure I will continue to see this passage play out in my own life, and especially in society. Some days I look at the world around me and feel hopeless. However, I have hope because God is in control. He will reward us for our obedience and trust in Him. Please pray for GOD'S truth to be seen throughout the lives and the world around us. I hope this can be a message of hope and truth to you today.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Holy Cow!

Wow, can anyone else not believe it's already August?! This summer has absolutely just flown by!

It's actually really bittersweet for me.

I have been living here in Florida with my brother and his wife, nannying their precious new baby since April 28th. Luke is already 5 months old and I cannot believe how much I love him. I leave to head back to California in 19 days. I am SO excited to be back for good and to never have to be away from my man again, but I will miss this precious baby's face so much. I have been incredibly spoiled by getting to watch him grow these past few months, kissing his chubby cheeks all the time, and just learning about how to be a good future mama. This has been one of the best summers of my life, despite missing Josh like crazy. I have learned so much about myself and my goals in life. I am so thankful that the military life will be bringing my brother and his wife to Northern California for 8 months this year. This means my little Lukey will only be a five hour drive away! :) It will be so hard to say goodbye in 19 days still, but I am so ready to be back with my love!

I have been slacking blogging this summer because of watching Luke full-time and attempting to do summer classes online! It has definitely been a handful haha! Last month, I got to escape to California for a few days to watch our dear friends get married in Dana Point. The wedding was overlooking the ocean and it was just so beautiful! It was so special to be there for their big day. The wedding definitely felt even more special for us, as we kept realizing the next time we'd be at a wedding together would be for our own wedding in a few months! It gave me goosebumps even more so than usual haha! Anyways, we had so much fun dancing and enjoying time with friends!

Cassie sent out my bridal shower invitations yesterday, which means it's really all coming together!! My bridal shower is going to be on October 5th and I am so excited to celebrate with my favorite girls! I can't believe we're almost 4 months from the big day! :)

In other news, I'm also really excited about Jamie and Nicole's teacher link-up! This link-up they put together matches up two teachers/future teachers to support one another! I am so excited and can't wait to see who I'm matched up with! If you are a teacher or future teacher, get over to their blogs and sign up quick! :) I'm graduating in December and hope to start teaching ASAP anywhere. But as California isn't the easiest place to find a private school job, I'm probably going to have to get my credential first. Nevertheless, I'm so excited to be getting closer to the job I've always wanted!

I hope y'all have a great night!


Friday, June 21, 2013


The past week just flew by--and mostly because of the company I had :)

Last Friday afternoon, I got in the car with Cassie to drive to the airport. I had been told that Aaron and Cassie had a friend from out of state visiting for the weekend. As we pulled up to the airport, I was waiting for Cassie to see her friend, when I noticed a guy that looked an awful lot like Josh...and then I realized it was Josh! 

I started saying, "Is this for real?!" I didn't even wait for the car to completely stop to get out of the car and run over to where he was standing! Normally, being the emotional person I am, I would've been crying by this point, but I was too in shock for this to happen haha :) It never really sunk in that it was real that he was here! I was just so happy to be seeing Josh! It had already been 45 days since the week I had spent in California in April (which was short compared to the 100+ days we spent apart while I was in England). And now, I only have 19 days until I fly out to California for a few days for a friend's wedding! Yay! Can't wait until I get back for good in August and never have to countdown to seeing my man again! Here are some pictures from our awesome week together!

Josh, right after he got in the car! I had to send a photo to my family so they'd believe me haha
 Josh finally meeting his nephew! :)
 Beach day #1! Josh never goes into the water with me because he hates to be cold but the water in the Gulf of Mexico is so amazingly warm!
 Beach day #2!
 Beautiful Florida!
 Such a fun day!
 Loved seeing my two favorite guys cuddling!
 Happy Lukey!
Cutest family! :)

I had such a great week! Can't wait for 19 days from now! Countdown begins! :) Loving my summer! Hope ya'll have a great weekend!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Wedding Inspiration: Lanterns

If you know me, you know that I absolutely love weddings. I had a stint where I considered becoming a wedding planner. I even had an internship with a wedding coordinator for a short period of time. However, as much as I loved it, it was not the career path I wanted to go down. But the good news is, I've been able to take some of what I learned and apply it to my own wedding plans. The wedding countdown is 201 days and I couldn't be more excited! I love to update the blog with themes I want to incorporate into the wedding. One of my favorite themes was the doily theme that I blogged about some months back. I will definitely be incorporating those ideas into invitations and escort cards. Another idea I've really come to love is lanterns! Because our wedding will be happening a little bit before sunset, I've really started to envision lanterns and candles all over. I love the warmth and garden feel, especially because our wedding will be in a garden :) So, without further ado, here are some ideas incorporating lanterns that I've come across.

 Lanterns on shepherd's hooks, lining the aisle
 Lanterns as centerpieces
 More centerpiece ideas (on books, for the English major in me)
Lining the aisle
Hanging from trees

What do you think? What kind of themes did you/will you incorporate into your wedding? Let me know :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My Best Friend & Reflections on Parenting

Tonight, I was reminded of what is required for a couple to make it last forever--being one another's best friend. With the exciting new addition of my iphone (yay!), Josh and I have been able to "face time." For those that don't know, face time is like skype, but I find it to be easier because you can access it as easily as calling someone on your phone except you also get to see them! :) Well anyways, I had been having a hard week, missing Joshua a lot! Usually baby Luke keeps me preoccupied with his cuteness that I forget to be anything but happy, but I was just missing my best friend so much. During 2013, I'll have only spent about two weeks total with Josh over a span of eight months, until I'm finally back to California for good at the end of August. I'm pretty sure that would be trying on ANY couple, so I am really proud of us for learning so many things from this long and hard time! It will be so rewarding when we never have to leave one another again :)

When we were "face timing" tonight, an hour flew by of laughter, teasing, and sharing and I just felt warmth. I felt comfort in knowing that no matter what, this man will always be here for me. He will always love me and do whatever is necessary to make sure our relationship thrives. Although I miss Josh every single day, I am reminded of how blessed I am to have such an amazing man that I get to miss and that I will get to spend my entire life with! Many young women I know are in unhealthy relationships or desire to have any kind of relationship because they don't know what they deserve. They settle for relationships that don't make them happy, that cause stress and constant fighting over things that don't matter, etc. And the truth is, that's not how someone should make you feel! A great relationship shouldn't make you feel less than what you are, it shouldn't make you depressed, and it definitely shouldn't consist of constant bickering! Two and a half years later, I'm here to tell you the truth--when you find the love of your life, you won't have to question it! You will know by the way you feel and by the person you are around that person :)

Soooo recent reflections after having been a full-time nanny to my precious nephew for a month I respect mothers so much more now than ever haha! Babies are perfectly cute and precious but holy cow do they require so much! I mean sometimes it requires Aaron's, Cassie's, and my own hands at one time to be doing something for Luke! Sometimes, it takes more than an hour to leave the house because of prepping the baby. It's strange how time is not measured in hours, but instead by feedings and diaper changes. But despite the poopy diapers and barfed-on clothes, there is nothing I want more in the world than to be a mom. Spending all day with Luke is so rewarding, so I know even more now that this is what I want to do with my own children. To see him smile and learn to recognize little things is so amazing! He has already grown so much in this past month and it is incredible! He is such a bundle of joy and a blessing to me! I love him more than I can put into words!

Another thing I've learned while living with Aaron and Cassie is the deeper importance of having both a mother and a father. Obviously I've come to understand how crazy difficult single moms have it, but that's not what I mean. What I mean is, men and women provide such different aspects in a child's life. I've always believed that and appreciated the presence of both father and mother figures in my life, but now witnessing it with a baby, it's even more clear to me how important it is for children to have BOTH a mom and a dad. Men and women provide such different things that are essential to a child to thrive in the world. A mother is nurturing and gentle, while a father is steadfast and provides a sense of assurance. I don't know how to explain it in an exact way, but by watching Aaron and Cassie interact with Luke, I am completely in awe of God's wisdom in knowing what we all need and deserve as children. He knows the ins and outs of our hearts and means to provide us with one of each because he created men and women uniquely, with our own needs and traits. God is just so awesome! :)

Anyways, probably time for me to go to bed! I hope you all have a great Memorial weekend and remember all those that have sacrificed for our freedoms!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Another Adventure

It's almost been a whole month since I left England and got back to America. I can't believe it! My last few weeks have been packed full though, hence why it feels this way. I got home to Minnesota and three days later got on another flight to head to my love in California. I was there for nine days and spent some great time with Josh! We had lots of time together because his schedule was surprisingly open for just the week I was there! He got to meet Amanda! I went to happy hour with Heidi! Saw a bunch of friends! AND we decided to change our wedding location, but not just venue...the state! Haha!

Of course I had come to envision my perfect wedding in a snowy atmosphere, surrounded by mountains in Montana. However, school and other things change that. Josh and I talked about his schedule for internships and decided that since we don't know if he'll get time off after, it would be easier to stay near school so we wouldn't have to stress about getting back from Montana immediately the next day. So we got a venue booked about 30 minutes from school and everyone is pretty happy (although it wasn't just for them, that makes us happy too). It was great to be there :) It was sad to say goodbye on April 28th, but I was also so excited to meet my nephew, who has completely stolen my heart by the way! 

I spend all day Monday-Friday from 6:30am-5ish with my handsome little man! I am by no means a morning person, but it is all worth it to soak up every single second with Luke! He is so perfect to me! This past week he got his first shots and as a side effect, got a little fever/pain. This led him to be really uncomfortable and cry a lot (he's typically a happy baby all day). My heart was breaking to see him hurt so much that I started crying! Haha! I am so sensitive!! But that's not always a bad thing :) 

Aaron and Cassie (and Luke!) are headed to Cassie's graduation (she just finished school and got her bachelor's degree!) in Arizona tomorrow and won't be back until Sunday. I'll miss them! But I'm excited to have some down time in the first time in a while! I'll be going to the beach (which is BEAUTIFUL and only five minutes away!), seeing "The Great Gatsby" on Friday, and looking at some scripture! In the meantime, I'm constantly looking at wedding ideas on pinterest! We're less than 8 months and counting from the big day so nothing is urgent (well, urgent in wedding planning terms haha), but I'd like to get some stuff thought out :) I am so thankful for this opportunity to spend time with family this summer! I'll update next time with photos and what not :)



Friday, April 12, 2013

Closing Time

I'm sitting on the couch in my room listening to "Home" by Michael Buble as I watch the rain come down outside my window. It seems like the appropriate scene as I prepare to leave Oxford :) This last month has been a complete whirlwind. Our "British Landscapes" course came and went, just like the tutorials that came before it. As I begin to prepare the things I need to pack up my bags and fly back, I also begin to mentally prepare--prepare for the emotions I will probably have as I say goodbye to this place I have called home for the past three and a half months, the emotions I will have as I quickly see my family and Josh before heading to Florida for the summer, and the emotions that come with gratitude and a thankful heart for the amazing experience I have had.

I have been so blessed by my time here. As we "debriefed" today, I reflected on my favorite parts of my term at Oxford. One of the most amazing experiences was my experience with my tutorials. I learned so much, but not just about the topic of my tutorials--I learned to be confident, I learned that my opinion was valued, I learned to not rely on secondary sources to make an argument for me, I learned that I am a better writer than I give myself credit, I learned to clearly make my point, I learned to rely on primary texts, I learned how to freely discuss my thoughts with an expert in the field and not feel inferior simply because he/she is further along academically. A part of me is disappointed that I have to go back to APU in the fall and take "regular" classes where I am constantly made to feel like my opinions are not as valid as the professor's, where the professor won't know me as a person, but as another student they lecture. I'm trying to be positive about it, as it is my last semester of my college experience. I know that even if the lecturing drives me crazy, what I will be able to apply from my experience at Oxford is my new and improved style of writing essays. I feel like I am a much better writer than I ever was and I cannot wait to go back and apply that to my last few classes. 15 papers and 35,000 words later, I'm ready to own my last semester haha! The confidence I have gained through this experience is something I would have never gained and for that, I am extremely grateful.

Obviously the other greatest experience was making amazing friends. Had I come to Oxford with the APU program, I would not have met Amanda and Sarah. It feels like I have known them for years now, so imagining having never met them is crazy. I am so thankful for the light they've been in my life in the gray, and sometimes lonely England. If it wasn't for them, I would have had a really difficult time here. It is crazy to think how close we became in just this short amount of time! Now they're both going to be at my bachelorette party and are planning on coming to my wedding. How amazing is that?! I'm so thankful for these two wonderful friends I've made and will miss seeing their beautiful faces every day. I cannot wait to continue our friendship back in the States and see what is in store for them :)

This weekend will consist of packing, cleaning, and getting more and more excited to get on the bus Monday morning that will bring me to the airport. I cannot wait to be reunited with my family and Josh! I cannot wait to get to Florida to see Aaron and Cassie and finally meet Luke! I am so blessed and excited for all the things happening in my life! God isn't just good in the highs, He is good in the lows and He always provides!

Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement during these past few months! I cannot wait to get back and share stories :) See you soon!


Friday, March 29, 2013

It's a Good Friday!

Hi all!

I hope you're having a wonderful Friday, especially because it's GOOD FRIDAY! When I was younger, I don't really remember being able to grasp what Good Friday was. We always celebrated Easter with your traditional brunch and candy, but as I got older and more into my faith, I was able to understand the real significance of this weekend. This weekend is the most important for Christians. Good Friday reminds us that Jesus actually DIED for our sins and Easter reminds us that Jesus conquered death and rose again! Easter is amazing because it's what makes Christianity different than any other religion--the founders of every other religion have a burial site, whereas Jesus doesn't have a burial site because He beat death! :D But the past few years I've also really taken Good Friday seriously, reflecting on what Jesus suffered because of me, because of you, because of all of our sins. He did it willingly and graciously. He was 100% innocent but knew this was the only way for us to have a personal relationship with God and spend eternity with Him! I am SO thankful for BOTH of these holidays because they remind us how much Jesus loves us and how awesome Jesus is! So I hope on this weekend, you're able to take some time and reflect on these holidays and what they really mean!

^^Maybe you've heard of this hymn by Isaac Watts! I love it :)
Feeling extra loved today as I reflect on my worth to Jesus :)

If you have free time and want to reflect on something, read "Dream of the Rood." It's an Old English poem I read freshman year in my English Lit to 1789 class. It's not known who wrote it or when, but it was definitely before the year 1,000AD. It's a great poem in the perspective of the cross that Jesus was crucified on and it's translated to modern English so it's understandable haha :)

I'm really thankful for this long weekend (we have today off and Monday) because it's been pretty tiresome getting up so early every morning haha! Today I slept in and then went into the city centre to do some shopping. I needed to buy a small carry on suitcase because apparently the one I brought with me doesn't meet regulations anymore, which caused me to have to pay $100 for it on the way here. Obviously I didn't want to pay that again, so I found a smaller cute cheetah one at a store in town for a good price! I also bought a cute dress and sandals because I don't have any thing for when I get to California that isn't jeans and a long sleeve shirt haha so now I'm set for when I get there until I can get my other clothes at the old apartment! After that, I went to one of the Oxford gift shops to find things for the fam, which was successful! Finally, I went to Blackwell's bookshop and got two F. Scott Fitzgerald novels for 7 euros (it was buy one get one free)! I was SO excited! So that's my big Friday night plan, starting The Great Gatsby and maybe moving onto This Side of Paradise. I'm really done with English lit haha that probably sounds stupid, but I've been studying it for the past year and a half, and it all starts to blend. It also bothers me that people mostly study English Lit. when American Lit. is so important to our history and is also just as awesome, if not better! For example, most people I know have never read Uncle Tom's Cabin. That's actually upsetting to me haha! I feel like people try so hard to make themselves more diverse and then begin to ignore their own roots, which is really sad! I LOVED all of the American novels we read in high school, so I've already made a list of American authors/novels I'm going to tackle this summer, or attempt because it's already to about twenty haha (as well as taking an American Novel class online). So we shall see what I'm able to get done :)
You know you're an English major when...haha!

Tomorrow evening, I'm heading into London to meet up with Amanda and her parents! We're going to Westminster Abbey for Easter service on Sunday morning, so that should be really neat! 

 Right now, I'm most excited about getting home in 17 days (and seeing Josh in 21)! It's all I can think about haha! I don't want to sound ungrateful, but I am just SO ready to be back! So this is how my face looks each day as I realize I'm one day closer to being with the people I love most in the world :)

Well, I'm going to start reading and continue listening to Blake Shelton's new CD :) I hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Rome/Nearing the End!

So I just realized it's been almost two weeks since I returned from my mini mid-term break that was spent in Rome and I haven't blogged about my amazing time! I want to write about it before I forget :) So, here are the details of my trip to Rome!

On Saturday morning (March 9th), Sarah and I got on our bus to the London Stansted airport (the same one we took to Dublin that unfortunately takes three hours haha). We got to the airport pretty early, and thankfully we discovered there that Sarah's credit card was being declined. Sarah had dropped her wallet two weeks before at the airport in Dublin and had just been sent a new card, but the bank didn't know she was overseas. So being the smart girl she is, she contacted her bank and let them know and the matter was resolved before we headed to our gate! We were so glad that was figured out before we got to Italy because that would have made things a lot more stressful and confusing haha! So we got on our flight and arrived about two hours later at around 7pm. Now, the reason ryan air is so cheap is because they usually make you fly into airports outside of the city, so we had to take a bus that took about 35 minutes to get into the main city area. But it was easy to figure out and it was cheap :)

The bus dropped us off at the Termini train station (the main station in Rome) and from there our bed & breakfast was just a five minute walk away! We found it easily and then checked in! 
Our cute room! Compared to some of the hostels we've stayed in, this felt like a five star hotel! We even had access to a hot shower and free use of towels! Haha!
The view outside of our window! A bunch of homes stacked high haha

Of course by the time we put our stuff in our room, we realized 1. we were hungry and 2. we had access to REAL Italian food!!! So we headed back downstairs to the restaurant that is owned by the same family who owns the bed & breakfast (and if you eat there, you get a 10% discount for staying at the bed & breakfast!) Sarah and I got amazing bruschetta (which I discovered is actually pronounced "brew-sketta", somehow we've messed that one up haha), which was a lot more simple than how it's made in the States, but it was so good and fresh! Then we had awesome bread, pasta, wine, and finally tiramisu! We weren't planning on eating there every night, but it turned out to be the best food we had while in Rome so we ended up eating the same meal every single night haha!
Spaghetti alla Matriciana (I think that's how you spell it?) with fresh bread and awesome white wine that I couldn't pronounce if I tried haha

^^Real tiramisu! I'm emphasizing the real because I don't really like tiramisu in the States, but tried a bite of Sarah's when she ordered it and it was like heaven! Sometimes, we mess stuff up haha but now I know I like real tiramisu :)

After our stomachs were happy and full, we went to bed early (for us) around 11pm. This ended up working nicely because then we were up at a decent hour haha! If you know me, you know I can sleep forever so the fact that we were up before 9am says a LOT! We headed down to the little eating area where we were served free breakfast every morning, consisting of two chocolate croissants, cappuccino, and orange juice. It was so yummy and nice! The man that served us each day was from Boston and had moved to Rome after meeting and falling in love with his now wife! He was so helpful and told us where to go and what not! He was missing home a lot so I think he appreciated our American bond :) After breakfast, we headed out to find the Coliseum, which was only about a 20 minute walk from us. We were excited to be outside because it was about 60 degrees and sunny, both things we haven't experienced in England haha (it snowed this past weekend and is still in the 30's). I was so excited to see it when we got there!

We waited for about 40 minutes to get in and it cost 12 euros, but it was SO worth it! It was incredible to see such an ancient building and imagine the gladiator-like battles that took place here. After taking it all in, we walked to the Palatine Garden.
So pretty!
In the Palatine Garden! I loved the trees in Rome!
View of the Coliseum from the garden

After seeing the Coliseum and the garden, we planned on walking to the Trevi Fountain. So we started walking and used a map...
In Piazzo Novano

We got lost after a while but turned back to the right direction and stopped for lunch. This turned out to be pretty funny...the waiter was quite infatuated with miss blonde Sarah (something Amanda had warned us about before). Not only is Sarah blonde, but she's also tall, two things Italians aren't haha so she stood out. The waiter liked her so much, he kept bringing us free things: wine, bread, and tiramisu. We ended up not having to pay for a lunch that by the end would've cost us more than 50 euros haha! We didn't hate it ;)
Wine for days

After our long and huge lunch, we wandered to the Trevi Fountain...
It was so beautiful! I loved it!

Afterwards, we headed back to our bed & breakfast and called it a night. The next day, we decided it would be a good day to go to the Vatican. First, we stopped back at the Trevi Fountain because it's just that pretty :)

Afterwards, we did some little street shopping, which is always fun! Then, we walked to the Spanish Steps and found the street that is like the Rodeo Drive or 5th Avenue of Rome. I don't remember what it was called, but I was loving it!

^Spanish Steps

After seeing the Spanish Steps, we hopped on the metro (which we are pros of by the way haha, even in a different language!) and headed towards the Vatican. I have never had so many people try to sell me things in my life than at the Vatican, which I find extremely ironic haha! Whether it be expensive tours, or crappy shoes, they WILL try to make you buy crap! But we were strong haha :)

The Vatican!

^The gelato place that my friend Sarah from APU who studied in Rome last semester told me I HAD to go to...with good reason! Cookie and coffee flavor = YUM! And it was right near the Vatican!

After walking around a bit and buying a few things, we headed back home and enjoyed our usual dinner at our restaurant downstairs and then headed to bed.

The next day, Tuesday, was our last day. We were HOPING that since this was the first day the cardinals would be voting for the next pope, that maybeeee, they would agree and then magically the Sistine Chapel would be open for us to see, but that didn't happen haha! So we split up the last day, as Sarah wanted to spend the day in the Vatican museum and what not. I didn't really have an idea of what I wanted to do, but I had fun wandering and felt really confident :) I took the metro to the Coliseum because it was raining off and on, and walked around the ruins.

It's so crazy to walk around these ancient ruins! Like, I couldn't even grasp how OLD this place is. I was thinking of how big the Roman Empire was and imagining gladiator-like scenes and I was just kind of laughing to myself, unable to grasp where I was. But it was SO great! I loved every second of it!

After wandering for a while, I walked to a little cafe and got pizza...and ate it all hahaha! But to clarify, their pizzas aren't regular sized. And I was walking a lot...whatever I was in Rome haha no justification necessary! It was great! After that I walked around some more and took pictures of cute buildings. 

Cobblestone & awesome architecture! Rome knows how to do things!
SO many birds that ALWAYS fly right at me haha!
A yummy thing I bought without knowing what it was (the Coliseum is the blurry thing in the back central of the photo)

After enjoying my day, I took the metro to the Vatican to meet up with Sarah. We headed back to the bed & breakfast. We thoroughly enjoyed our last dinner. Our catch phrase regarding Rome became, "how do you come back from this?!" The food was so amazing and the weather was awesome, we didn't know how we'd be able to come back to icky English food and no sun haha! But nonetheless, we've been back in Oxford for almost two weeks. I had such a great experience in Rome! It was so beautiful and full of history! I can't wait to take Josh there someday! :) p.s. In case you haven't been watching the news, the new pope was elected the night we got back to Oxford. A pope hasn't been elected in that little of time since about the 1930' about disappointed haha! But even more reason to go back!

So three weeks from today I will be on my plane flying home to the States!!! I'm so excited! This whole experience has been so good for me! I have grown so much, in ways that I don't even think I'll realize until I'm home and have settled back into normalcy. But I am so ready to be back in America! You really don't know what you have until it's gone haha! Cliche, true. But it's truth! I am so much more aware of how great our country is! I appreciate other countries and their cultures, but there really is no place like America :)

As for now, we're in "British Landscape" class. This means most days of the week we wake up early to head to Wycliffe Hall, watch an hour long video about some part of British history, take a break, hear a lecture for an hour, have lunch, and head home. Once a week we have a field trip, which is really a great way to see other parts of England! We've seen Stonehenge, Old Sarum, Salisbury, Porchester Castle, and Portsmouth! I just submitted my first paper for the course this afternoon that was about William Wallace (we get to choose our own essay topics and I picked Wallace because after going to Scotland and watching Braveheart, I'm kind of obsessed haha). We have one more paper due next Thursday (that I will write on how the famous war poet Wilfred Owen spoke for a generation, which is awesome because we read Owen last semester in my British Lit class). After that, we have our last week free of classes to finish our long essays that will be due that final Thursday. So pretty much, I only have two papers left and I'm so excited! Haha!

Meanwhile, everyone except me is getting to see the cutest baby to ever be born! Okay, not everyoneeee. But my mom and Jamie got to fly to Florida this past week and meet the newest addition to our family, Luke!

He is seriously the most precious thing I've ever seen! I can't wait to meet him in almost a month and spend the whole summer watching him grow! Good job, Aaron and Cassie! Haha!

Well, with that, I'm off to socialize as I've been holed up in my room all afternoon trying to start research for my next paper but mostly procrastinating haha! Love and miss you all!