Monday, June 4, 2018

You're a Seed


It's been quiet around here for quite some time. It seems as if creativity and inspiration go hand in hand, and when those two aren't being fed the proper nutrients... well they decide to sit back and hold their magic until something happens.

I'm a bit theatrical, this I know. What I mean to say is, I've been feeling a little less than magical in terms of the creative department lately.

I've been busy at work running after children, reading stories, creating crayon monsters, and pretending I'm a big pirate as I swish across the wooden floor with a mop. 

And after a long day, I felt the amount of magic left inside of me to create something just wasn't worth trying.

When I have had a sliver of an idea, it just took one quick look at social media to realize my idea totally sucks. "So and so is so much better"... so I put out the spark before it even had the chance to become something. 




I read a story to our kids the other day called I'm a Seed by Jean Marzollo. And as simple as it was, it ignited something in me as I turned the pages and read it out loud.

It's about two tiny seeds who are planted in the ground, each different. One of them knows what it will become (marigold flowers), the other one doesn't.

And every time they sprout, the marigold seed seems way more ahead than the other seed. One grows up to the sky, the other one grows sideways.

The marigold is very confident in her growth process, whereas the other seed always looks at the marigold wondering why she isn't growing the same way. 


At one point, the marigold sprouts 20 flowers, and the other seed's petals die and become green and round.

Just then the other seed's green and round "petals" become orange. Finally the marigold shouts, "You are a pumpkin plant! You grew six pumpkins! You are beautiful!" 

In the end, both realize they each contain plenty of seeds within them to create even more beautiful marigold flowers and pumpkins.


What this sweet story helped me understand is that we as humans are the same way. 

In this story... I'm the pumpkin plant. I'm constantly looking at the people around me and their growth, wondering why aren't I growing the same way too?

What in the world will I become? Will I have flowers? Will they be pretty? What color will they be?

And then I thought about what God says about us.

// For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. // Ephesians 2:10





God created me with all things that I need inside of me. What He instilled there is unlike the seed next to me, but it's everything I will need to become who He made me to be. 

And once we grow... we'll have seeds to help others grow into what God has created them to be too.  

My job isn't to look at the growth of the person next to me. Because they have something else that they're called to be. 

My job is to love God, love people, and grow with what I was given inside of me... in the ground that I was placed in.  

I am a seed. 

You are a seed too. 

Grow where you are planted...  and with time you'll see the beauty flourish out of you too. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Metamorphosis


We are studying the changes a caterpillar undergoes to become a butterfly through the process of Metamorphosis in our classroom. To be honest it is a bit gross if you're not into insects (I'm totally not)... but the process is truly amazing.

They start very small as eggs, and then go through many different stages rather quickly.

As soon as the eggs hatch and they become caterpillars, they have a MASSIVE hunger. They have one job at this time... eat. We watched these little guys day by day become twice their size! 




Since they are growing so quickly, they face a challenge in that their skin cannot grow with them. So as they make a new skin underneath, they "shed" or molt the old one. 

They undergo this process 5 times, until they are way too big for their caterpillar skin and so spin silk around themseves and become something that looks like a coccoon, but is called a Chrysalis.

Finally during this stage which appears to be their resting stage... is actually the most amazing part!

Inside that still nestled up little Chrysalis, the caterpillar is transforming itself into a butterfly.

Within a few days, the caterpillar is a new creature with beautiful wings and can fly.

I always find a way to relate things back to God (that's just how my mind works now)... and I couldn't help but think how much Metamorphasis reminds me of being born again (Christian).

// Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. // John 3:2

 

When we first come to know Jesus, we have this massive hunger to know who He is.

We dig into scripture, listen to sermons and encouraging music, go to different encouraging events, and become deeper involved with perhaps the church or certain ministries.

We desire to know who exactly is this God that sought after our hearts and unblinded us to a whole new world.

And so just like the caterpillar, we grow and grow the more we "eat" and fill ourselves with the knowledge of God and He continues to open up our hearts.

As we grow, we "molt" or rather change our old sinful ways and start becoming a new person. We don't see things or have a desire to do certain things like we did anymore... we have a new light in us.

Finally, just like the caterpillar that wraps itself into a Chrysalis, we too are being transformed by Jesus.

// And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. // Romans 12:2 

 

But what I found interesting is that when the butterfly finally is ready, it MUST have the strength to break itself free from the Chrysalis.

The struggle it undergoes to break free is necessary for the butterfly to survive and be able fly. Once it is free, the butterfly pumps blood into its wings and strengthens and dries them before flight.

Finally, the butterfly is ready to fly. The whole purpose of an adult butterfly is to reproduce and plant eggs elsewhere to begin the process again.

Just like Jesus commands us to do once we are believers... to go and spread the good news to others.

// Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. // Matthew 28: 19 


How beautiful is that?! My mind was blown away when I saw this process unravel before my eyes, and then even more so that God does the same with our lives once we come to Him.

He places beauty all around us, the process of change is scary... but in the end worth the incredible growth we undergo to become what God always had planned for us.

We become a beautiful new being (just like butterflies!) filled with light, a second chance, and new purpose.


And then, we too are finally ready to fly. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ireland 2018



Ireland was just as majestic as I dreamed it would be. With the stunning greenery and cobalt blue waters, it truly is a beautiful country.
 ...
We met and sat in my car one night at the Starbucks parking lot (like all of our trips begin) and sipped on lattes as we jotted down ideas and scribbled on maps.

"Ireland... Guys we're going to IRELAND." We excitedly couldn't grasp the idea that this was actually happening. 

We arrived in Dublin Airport on a very early flight and met our cousin coming in from Naples, Italy. 

(We flew with Aer Lingus, which we absolutely LOVED--- from the service to the meal and entertainment... 5-star rating right here!).

As soon as we arrived, we felt the warmth of the Irish people as an older lady kindly spoke to us about our trip and gave us suggestions. 

We took a taxi ride to arrive at our hotel: the Hotel St. George, conveniently located in the heart of Dublin city on Parnell Square. 

*Tip: The passenger seat is on the left side of the car in Ireland. Most of the times, the taxi fare will be shown on the dashboard with the tip already included. (No figuring out percentages, woo!!)


We stayed for a total of 5 full days, which isn't a long time... but we managed to do and see most of the monumental things you would want to in Ireland.  

We did some exploring on our own in the city of Dublin and found many charming streets and old legends and tales.

Here are the places we visited while in Dublin:

Bewley's: We had breakfast at this charming place right on Grafton street. White Chocolate scones, cappuccinos, poached eggs, and sausage. I will say it was a bit on the pricey side, but nonetheless delicious. 

Molly Malone Statue: There is a song written about this lovely lady that we often got stuck in our heads walking through the streets and having dinner at the different pubs.  

Grafton Street is the downtown central shopping area of Dublin. If you are looking to do some serious shopping with an expensive taste... look no further. Very cute, many tourists often visit this area. 

National Musuem of Ireland: If you love history and want to learn all about the kings of Ireland, the Vikings and their victory over many parts of Ireland, and the Celtic culture... you will love to take a visit at this museum. It's fascinating how many people who were found in the bogs (muddy water), were conserved over so many centuries. Their hair and nails were still intact! 

*Tip: All National Museums of Ireland are completely free to visit!

Quay's Irish Restaurant: On our first night, we headed out to the Temple Bar area and found this small but full of character restaurant. I tried the cottage pie (marinated ground beef with baked mashed potatoes on top) and it was sooo good!

The Shack Restaurant: Also right across Temple Bar, this quaint little restaurant was so cute. Fresh, homecooked meal... I had the Chicken St. Patrick and loved it. 

The Merchant's Arch: We were trying to find dinner one night and stumbled upon this little gem. They take you in the back and tucked away, up the spiral stairs for dinner. You can hear the live singer and band play sweet Irish tunes as you enjoy a view of the setting sun on the Millenium Bridge. 

There are TONS of souvenir shops on O'Connell Street. I would suggest buying them while you are there as opposed to on any tours you may go on, where time is limited. 


Trinity College had the most beautiful library and campus. Although you can't touch any of the books in the library... it's still worth a visit. 

*Tip: There will most likely be a wait on the line to purchase tickets to enter the library and see the Book of Kells. Make sure you are bundled up because the line forms outside.


We visited the St. Patrick's Cathedral. Though we didn't go inside, the gardens and architecture are quite beautiful to see and photograph.


We took a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin. It was absolutely great and well worth it. They picked us up at a meeting point and took about 4 hours to reach there. But they made plenty of stops and gave us the history of Ireland along the way and even played traditional music. 

The cliffs were absolutely breathtaking. You realize just how small you are when standing relatively close to the edge, and the cobalt blue water with the green hills are truly majestic. 

The tour bus stops along the way to see other points such as The Burren Way, and the cute town of Galway

*Tip: Be sure to be bundled up with hat, scarves, gloves, and RAINBOOTS! The path to the top is very muddy and rough, and the winds literally pushed me over while walking up to the top. 


Another day, we took another tour to Giant's Causeway which is located in Northern Ireland. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you'll love The Dark Hedges. We then stopped at a cute little family restaurant for lunch before heading to the Carrick-a-Rede bridge. 

We hiked up a 20 minute walk to reach the bridge, and once we got there the wind picked up and began to hail. Usually, the bridge will close if that's the case, but we were lucky to be able to cross it.

It was super shaky and the wooden planks that pushed beneath my feet gave me an adrenaline rush! The first time over I was super concentrated on just crossing, and on the way back I was able to get some shots. 

*Tip: Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, therefore only accepts the Bristish Pound as currency. Make sure you either have the currency or bring a Visa or Mastercard. (Discover and American Express are NOT accepted in Europe.) 


Next stop is the Giant's Causeway. The scenic route was BEAUTIFUL! The salty ocean breeze and the wonder of the volnanic rock formation was truly marvellous. 

*Tip: It is a 20 minute or more hike to reach the Giant's Causeway scenery, be sure to bring comfortable water-proof shoes. 



The last stop was Dunluce Castle. It is built on top of the coastal cliffs right by the sea. 

Though in ruins I listened to the roaring waves below the castle and as I walked on the broken cobblestone floors, I imagined life during these difficult times this castle was built.  


Another day we visited the town of Portobello, Dublin. Filled with coffee shops and wall art. If you love artsy, this place is for you. 

I also discovered Whelan's Pub, which was where Gerry sang to Holly in P.S. I love you!


The Guiness Storehouse is the number one attraction in Ireland and so we had to go take a visit as well.

A pint of Guiness beer is included with your ticket purchase that you get to enjoy all the way up at The Gravity Bar, with a view of the city of Dublin. 

Though I don't like beer, it was a cool experience to see how it is made. 


You can't go to Ireland without watching and listening to a traditional Irish dancing and music show. 

We booked Celtic Nights at the Arlington Hotel, which was only a short walk from our hotel in Dublin. 

We got a three-course meal and the lively music and dancing was so fun!

I highly reccommend for a fun traditional Irish night out.