Well, I’m slightly embarrassed that I wrote this post about my October trip to Southern CA clear back in November and never posted it. I don’t even remember what I wrote … maybe I should read it before publishing it?


In October, I got to take a trip to Southern CA – the beautiful Santa Clarita Valley to be more specific … and a little of the San Fernando Valley as well. 😉 This was my first trip since I moved home, and it was a wonderful blessing in so many ways. The primary reason for the trip – a wedding! (And not just anyone’s wedding … Polly’s wedding! Woot woot!) My 4 day weekend was filled to the brim and included the following:

  • Laughing so hard on the car ride from the airport that I’m pretty sure Jenn almost wrecked the car once or twice due to lack of visibility from tears in her eyes (I’d mention one of the things we were laughing at but you’d have no idea what I was talking about, and I’ve been told by a source that if you Google it … well, it’s not entirely appropriate. But don’t worry …. Google doesn’t know what I’m talking about either). Love you, Jenn! 😉
  • Tears of utter happiness at the sight of Polly
  • A bridal shower (an absolutely beautiful one, I might add)
  • Last minute packing and moving
  • An early morning breakfast
  • Little sleep
  • 3 different places to sleep (in 4 nights, haha)
  • Discovering I enjoy arranging flowers
  • Manicures (Confession: I love getting a French Manicure! I feel so stinkin’ pretty and girly with my nails done … LOVE it!)

Yay for a pretty French manicure

  • Did I mention the lack of sleep yet?
  • 2 different 2 hour stays at Chick-Fil-A in 1 night and I didn’t even eat there … yeah, go figure
  • Lots of laughter – especially in my 4 hours at Chick-Fil-A
  • Golden Spoon!!! YuM!

BTW, we're at Chick-Fil-A! I wasn't kidding about how much time I spent there!

  • The “Low Hotel”
  • Church of the Canyons – Pastor Bob, many sweet friends, my little Sunday School kids! 🙂
  • Coffee with a friend
  • Lunch at Aroma with a friend
  • Dinner with my “Southern CA Parents” at my favorite Italian restaurant in SoCal – La Piccola Trattoria. I may or may not be best friends with the chef … he kinda makes me a special dessert.
  • Leap Year – so great!  Rita, I LoVe laughing with you!
  • A stop at GTY – my how things have changed around that place. Like half the people in Customer Service are new. Guess that’s what happens over the course of 2-3 years.
  • Children’s Hunger Fund.  I felt a bit like a celebrity in the hallway … pretty nice! 😉 My CHF peeps, it was SO wonderful to see you. I miss working with ya’ll! And not gonna lie, I think I mostly miss laughing with you guys. 🙂 I’m glad “the new me” doesn’t bake so I won’t be entirely forgotten!
  • Just realized I kinda forgot an important thing … Polly and Brian’s wedding!!! (It was kind of a big deal.) Definitely one of the best weddings I’ve ever been to. I loved everything about it. I mean, ya’ll fed me Porto’s potato balls for cryin’ out loud. Super great catching up with people at the reception! (Ash, I am SO thankful for the time we had that night! Love you, friend!)
  • Aroma with my sweet Kristin (oh boy, just remembered what I ate that day … Peppered Beef Sandwich. Can we say delicious??)
  • And we’re back at the Sacramento Airport … the new terminal, I might add. Yes, I saw the gigantic red bunny and rode the tram and felt like an idiot for having no clue until my arrival at the airport that there was a brand new terminal – apparently I’m a bit out of the loop. Oh and also, when I flew out of Sac, I had one of the most awkward experiences ever … let’s just say snake skin sandals, Vegas, and awkward humor … we’ll leave it at that. {Awkward turtle!}

Does anyone know why this large rabbit is greeting guests in Sacramento??!

  • Lack of pictures. Sorry, I wasn’t exactly going picture happy with my phone.

Overall, the trip was everything I hoped for and more. God was so kind in giving me a trip full of laughter, fun, serious and encouraging conversations, opportunities to serve, and sweet time with friends! Thanks to everyone involved in making my weekend visit so grand!


So I had this nostalgic desire to go to a Grace Community Christmas concert this year, and my mom and I decided to drive down for a weekend. Super fun weekend spent with great friends. God’s grace and good gifts were, once again, so lavish! I’ll simply let a few pictures do the talking.

Polly, THANK YOU! I totally love my pineapple ornament! Made me smile every time I saw it on my tree!


The Christmas concert was super great! Yay!


What's Christmas in SCV without a little Ash Court Christmas bling?? 😉


First time meeting my aunt and uncle's dogs ... I just loved them! (AZ)

I love my Aunt Mar! 3+ years is way too long between visits. (AZ)

Cooking with my mamma! Next picture shows who started it all ... (AZ)

My grandma's friend is Italian. He mentioned to my mom and grandma that his grandmother used to make amazing risotto. My mom volunteered me to make risotto for him one night. Such a blast! And he approved! ; ) (AZ)

Buon Appetito! (ps - my grandma wouldn't really smile and Don wouldn't look at the camera ... quite the pair, haha) (AZ)

The view of the pool and ocean from my lounge chair ... it was rough!

To say that my mom LOVED snorkeling would be the understatement of the year!

Uh ... my uncle and I may or may not have laughed at this child ; )

Our poolside bungalow ... with some sleepy boys

I just can't leave out the shower picture (it was in the bungalow). I don't know who took the pic ... assuming my mom? : )

The Bandit! One of my fave pics from the trip ... sorry Joella : )

Can we say "massive"?? Me, my cousin Abby, and my mom in front of a HUGE fireplace.

Yes, cards ... they are a must have in this family! Thanks for a wonderful trip! : )

Ok, so I was on such a roll with faithfully blogging … and then I went MIA. But I do have a great excuse … I was on vacation! So here are a few updates and a preview of my vacation.


The last update I received was about a week ago. Frank says it so much better than I can, so here are a few snippetts from his email update (dated Aug. 4th).

It was great to hear him be so talkative (those personally acquainted with Luigi know how quick he speaks). It was great to see how well his keen memory has returned. It was really heart-warming to read Scripture together and pray out loud.

This previous Monday was a discouraging day for Luigi as he discovered how weak he had become over the last nearly six weeks. He was to sit up in bed for the first time since entering the hospital. He could only take a few minutes and he was exhausted. He also is still very limited on use of his left arm and hand. Tomorrow (Aug 5), testing will be done to try to determine the reason. Please pray for the doctors to be able to be discerning. Yesterday he could sit up in a wheel chair and feed himself!

This coming Monday (Aug 9), Luigi will be transferred to a hospital that specializes in helping to rehabilitate people who have suffered from brain trauma. This rehab will last for possibly 3-4 weeks. The unfortunate aspect of this highly recommended hospital is that it is located on an island east of Venice and requires travelling on a boat to get there. That will greatly increase the difficulty of Felicia trying to be with him daily (three hours travel coming and going). Pray Luigi will be able to face this difficult period with determined faith and perseverance. Please also pray he will be able to sleep well at nights since rest helps his body heal and his morale to increase. We are very grateful that the brain swelling we asked you to pray about has gone completely down! The right side of his skull will not be reinserted until after the rehab is finished.

We are again so grateful for your continued prayer support and for the wonderful miracle that God has performed thus far on Luigi’s behalf!

Frank also included Luigi’s email address for anyone who would like to write him a note of encouragement. Since Frank offered it, I would be glad to share that if you’re interested … just let me know.


First of all … it was awesome, even though it was a little complicated due to the amount of travel that took place: 4 days of flying within a period of 8 days; a total of 8 flights; 3 delayed flights (I lost track … maybe it was 4???); carrying my luggage and my grandma’s through several different airports; my mother literally praying me to safety as my plane into Tuscon was in the midst of a huge lightening storm; and so on. 🙂

My mom and I first went to Tuscon, AZ. We spent a couple days with my grandma, aunt, and uncle, which was a blast! Then my mom, grandma, and I took off for West Palm Beach, Florida, where we were meeting up with my Uncle David and his family. They were vacationing at The Breakers, and we stayed at my Great Aunt Margie’s condo (literally right on the Atlantic Ocean). This family reunion was so much fun. It had been years since I’d seen my uncle, my cousin, and my Aunt Margie. Also, we got to meet my uncle’s wife and her 3 kids – so great! Here are a few pics (first is AZ, and the others are FL) … more to come … hopefully. 🙂

The Girls ... Grandma, Aunt Mar, my mom and I. Oh ... and it's not just the girls ... the dogs are boys. 😉

Mom and David sitting outside our poolside/oceanside bungalow

Cousins! I felt like I met Abby for the first time since it's been 5 or 6 years since I last saw her!

How many hours of snorkeling did we get in??? ; )

Just wanted to give a quick update on my weekend trip to Sacramento. First off, I did take my camera … but it never got out of the case. I think that made it difficult to take pics … not sure. 🙂

So Jenn and I left after work Thursday night, and had a great time catching up on life since we don’t see each other every day any more. We got home late and enjoyed our beds. Friday we went to Karen’s Bakery (LoVe this place … definitely hit it up almost every time I’m home). We then went on a bit of a shopping spree … I love the Outlets (yay for GAP and Banana Republic!). Friday night we chilled at home and introduced Jenn to the best bean burrito in NorCal from Jimboy’s. Saturday we had a wedding to go to outside of Modesto, and my mom ended up joining us. We enjoyed great conversation in the car, preparing Jenn for her upcoming marriage to a certain Spaniard she kinda likes. 🙂 Oh, and the wedding was a blessing too! Got to see Heidi on the way back, and her new house! Love it! Heid, I’m almost tempted to move back to Sac and move in with you … especially with that baby grand. 🙂 Saturday night Jenn and I finally saw a movie we planned to watch months ago (funny story about that) and … Did you Hear about the Morgans was hilarious! Sunday morning started out with mochas at Peet’s coffee, and then I got to go to my home church and sit with my sweet friend! Church was a wonderful focus on the Gospel and the truth that we are in Christ and do not have to sin (Romans 6). Praise God! After church, we went to my aunt’s house. So great to see my grandparents, some of my cousins, and my aunt and uncle. I swear, my boy cousins grow so huge every time I see them! My papa and I were laughing at me standing next to my “little” cousin. 🙂 It was special to spend some time with them, since I don’t normally get to on Easter Sunday. And this time was extra special because I got to sit on my Papa’s lap for awhile. 🙂 I’m so thankful for my wonderful grandparents! Sally got a couple good pics, that I hope to get a copy of. I will post them if I get them. The ride back … it may or may not have included Jenn and I rocking out to Abba, The Beatles, Miley Cyrus (I put my hands up, they’re playing my song!), and Jonas Brothers. 🙂 So all in all … a wonderful weekend … couldn’t have asked for a better one! God is so kind and gracious, and He delights in lavishing good gifts upon His children.

“The time that you spent is spent … never to be recovered again.” – Rick Holland

Regardless of your opinion on rap and Christian rap, this song is amazing! It’s like listening to a 2 hour sermon on basic theology in 4 minutes.

I’m so excited, because on Thursday, I’m driving to Sacramento with Jenn! We’re going to a wedding in Modesto on Saturday, so we’re making a whole weekend out of it and going to my house. This is my last big “hurrah!” with her before she gets married and leaves me forever (and no, I’m not joking because eventually she’s moving to Spain. boo). And … I get to see my parents and, Lord willing, some family and friends!! Yay! I’m hoping to spend at least an hour or two with the whole fam on Sunday after church, in which case I would get to see these peeps … and these ones … and these ones!! 🙂 Can you tell I love my cousins?

So I meant to blog about this on December 10th, but I didn’t. So here’s my late post ….

On Decemeber 10, 2009, I wrote the following in my journal:

“As I wrote that date I realized it was 4 years ago today that I came back from Israel. Wow … what memories that brings back. I have to stop myself, because I could sit here for hours thinking of all my experiences that semester and how God changed my life. Thank You, Lord, for making that possible!”

I am so incredibly thankful for the semester I spent at IBEX. It truly was one of the greatest times of my life, for many reasons. The Lord taught me so many wonderful lessons, blessed me with new and lasting friendships, and burdened my heart for missions. I got to walk where Jesus walked, pick up stones where David killed Goliath, march around Jericho, wander the streets of Jerusalem, hike (and I mean hike – it’s steep!) the Mount of Olives, raft down the Jordan River, stand in a place where I could see 3-4 countries at one time, snorkel in the Red Sea, eat 1/2 shekel pita and falafel, make friends in the Old City, buy the most awesome t-shirts ever for a couple dollars, listen to gunfire, take pictures with Israeli soldiers, walk around the Temple Mount, go to church on Saturdays, float in the Dead Sea, see where the Dead Sea scrolls were found, listen to the jackals, and read the Bible where it was actually written (my first night there I was sitting outside reading my Bible with Mary, and I stopped and suddenly said: “Mary, we are where this was written!!!!”). That is just a sampling of what I did … I don’t have all day to write this. 🙂 Here are some pics, and I will be bringing part 2 to you shortly … Enjoy!

Ashkelon Beach ... and the burned down tower 🙂

Mary and Me with Egypt in the background

Need to make a phone call?

Nothing screams "Israel" like Elvis and ice cream

We kinda stumbled upon some soldiers outside the Temple Mount

Reading the Psalms of Ascent ... so awesome!!

Making wine 🙂

Roberto, typical Christian, me and Mary

The Dome of the Rock ... graffiti

Was this my first ever falafel?!? I LoVe falafel!

#10 – The Leaves – We were there a little too early for the full change of the fall colors, but we did see the beginning and there were spots of color here and there. It was so beautiful, so I can only imagine how gorgeous it must be in full orange, red and yellow!

#9 – Papa Driving in NYC – We were all quite proud of his maneuvering through the crazy streets of the city. We laughed (and gasped) several times throughout the journey. The best part was when we were stopped at a light, and Sally rolled down her window and touched the truck next to us.

#8 – Empire State Building – If you didn’t see the pictures from this post, check it out. It was a crisp, clear night … the view was amazing! When I asked my friends what to do in NYC, they all agreed that I had to do the Empire State Building at night. I definitely agree.

#7 – Tea & Carriage Ride. In honor of my grandma’s birthday, we surprised her by going to tea at The Plaza Hotel and then taking a carriage ride through Central Park. It was so much fun! I absolutely loved Central Park … it’s such a beautiful, calm place.

#6 – North End: Boston’s Little Italy – LoVeD it here! I wonder why?! 🙂 Mike’s Pastry was just amazing, as I already mentioned in my previous post. And Caffe Vittoria is a legit Italian bar (and by bar I mean coffee shop). My latte macchiato took me back to Venice … it was just grand!

#5 – Sea Swirl!! We were in Mystic, Connecticut (way cute little town with fun shops), and I was craving ice cream. One of the tourist guides to Mystic recommended a few ice cream places, one of which was Sea Swirl. The thing about this place that caught my eye was that Rachael Ray had eaten there on her show “$40 a Day,” and I LoVe Rachael Ray. 🙂 So my quest … find Sea Swirl and have ice cream there. Well we found it, and I’m not gonna lie it wasn’t what I was expecting. It was just this little hole-in-the-wall kind of place on the side of the street. It was the kind of place where you go up to the window and order and there are picnic tables outside. I told the girl I was a big dork and I was only there because Rachael Ray had been there, haha. She had actually been there when Rachael Ray was there and she told me what she ordered – the codfish sandwich. So all this effort … and she didn’t even get the ice cream! But since I was hungry I decided to be brave and try the sandwich. Note to keep in mind: I do not like fish! Oh. my. goodness. The sandwich was InCrEdIbLe!!! In fact, it’s just before lunch as I’m writing this, and now I want one for lunch. Do you think I can make it to Connecticut and back in 1/2 an hour?!

#4 – Ear piercing! I told Heidi months ago that I wanted to get second holes in my ears. We decided we wanted to get it done on this trip if we could find a place. The process of trying to get our ears pierced was hilarious … we tried to do it our 1 night in Providence, and after 3 piercing and tattoo parlors (or is it a shop – I do not know), more lessons in piercing and gauges than I care to know, and several thoughts of “Am I going to die in here?!” … we did not get it done. In Boston, right before we had to leave (literally … I was afraid we were going to miss our plane, haha!) Heidi and I spotted a Claire’s … and we came out of there with second holes, permanent souvenirs, and a mission accomplished.

#3 – Hot cocoa and talking. On the last night of our trip (in Boston), Heidi and I really wanted some hot chocolate to drink. There was a downpour, we were soaked, we were cold … we wanted to drink warmth. We were back at our hotel, and we weren’t really sure where to go at that late hour to drink hot chocolate. So Heidi, Sally and I headed down to the “lounge” in our hotel to see if they could satisfy our craving … and sure enough, they had hot cocoa … and whipped cream! 🙂 The three of us sat and talked for a long time and had great conversation. 

#2 – Story time with Papa and Grandma. There were lots of stories and fun conversations and memories throughout the trip, but the highlight was in the car driving from New York to Connecticut. Sally asked Papa and Grandma to tell us the story of their relationship. We got to hear everything from when they first met to their first date to their first kiss to their wedding to their honeymoon to their anniversaries and much, much more. So fun! 🙂

#1 – My favorite moment from my trip … the end of my plane ride to New Jersey. It was sunset … there were beautiful, huge, white, puffy clouds … there were amazing colors dancing across the sky … I was listening to the Sovereign Grace song “Glorious & Mighty.” It was one of those mountain top experiences of seeing God’s greatness through His creation and worshipping Him. He is truly amazing!

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