…Prayer…

Small group

Disclaimer: This post was originally written right after the 4th of July weekend.

It’s been awhile since my last guest blog post here… And I’m glad to be back! I was inspired recently by the “Letter to the Ephesians” topic being picked apart in my church in Barcelona. Our head Pastor, John, especially got my attention when he explained by saying: “It’s time to walk in the sonship and daughterhood that we have been offered by the Father.”

I think this is an important idea in terms of the key ideas that children need to understand. God is not some far away, idle being; but rather He is your Father, your confidant, your savior, and your rock. For me, growing up it was much easier to build a relationship with God thinking of him as my loving Father figure, as opposed to an untouchable, vague entity.

The other takeaway from the service was when John went over how to pray. Many, many Christians grapple with the issue of how to pray. Here’s the good news: it’s easy! If you’re someone who likes structure and routine, you’ll probably appreciate how they broke it down. A simple yet effective way to pray is to break it up into three parts: Give thanks, Specific requests, Give Praise. Not too bad, right?

So Part One: Give thanks… pretty self-explanatory there. This is my favorite part of praying. Every time I pray I start off by rattling off a dozen or so things for which I’m thankful. For example, “Dear God, THANK YOU for the sunshine today, for my family and friends, for fireworks, thank you for lemonade, for diversity, for my wonderful church, and God, I also want to thank you for all of my talents, my health, my opportunities, and my relationship with you.” All you have to do is thank God for whatever comes to mind; it is that simple!

Part Two: Specific requests. This is what people usually think of when they think about praying… “God please help me pass this test; God please say that I get this job,” etc. God already knows what’s on our hearts, but there is nothing wrong praying this way. Often times, it also makes us feel better in the moment. What is interesting, however, is if you try to switch from Heaven-up prayer requests to Heaven-down requests. So instead of sending your daily requests up to God, perhaps next time ask: “God, what should I be doing to better this situation?” or “Father please show me how to be a better sister” – that is more Heaven-down style praying. Mix it up!

Part Three: Give Praise! Conclude your prayer by rejoicing in your faith. You can make it as long or short as you like. I usually wrap it up with “Thank you God. You are so good, always. You fill up everything everywhere. I love you; I praise you.”

Don’t make praying harder than it should be. Through prayer we get to directly communicate with our Father and that is awesome! As our head Pastor reminded us, “He is profoundly near whether we feel it or not.” So pray, pray often, and pray with your heart! Happy Saturday everyone!

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Be kind and have courage.

So the Spring Game here in LNK a few Saturdays ago was an absolute blast. Beth and I went over to Kirby’s house to hang with her Anna, Liz, and Craig before heading downtown. Per the usual, it was just so great to get to catch up with people. And tailgating is still a treat that I’ve experienced few and far in-between; I had never gone to a Husker game before going to the University, and even in my four years as a Husker student, I barely ever tailgated (mind you I worked in the skyboxes my latter two years). Kirby ended up driving us down to Barry’s in the HayMarket. It couldn’t have been a prettier day, weather-wise. Couldn’t tell ya which side won but speaking on behalf of Beth and myself, ’twas a wonderful day!

Life here carried on as normal as my current state of affairs can allow. Both my mom and best friend, Beth, celebrate their birthdays on April 18th. Given my flexibility right now, I was elated that I got to surprise them both at their respective places of work the day before their actual birthday, aka Friday the 17th. Plus, it was the first time I got to see Beth’s classroom and meet some of her co-workers at Adam’s – so fun! Even though Beth teaches third grade, I was totally reminded of Ms. Honey’s classroom from Matilde. Of course, several of Beth’s students (and parents) and already given her birthday presents by mid-day; those kids are so lucky to have her!  Red velvet cupcakes and Trader Joe’s flowers for the win. Also, loved getting to see Cass and Mag at SF.

So for my mom’s actual birthday, I helped her celebrate by accompanying her to the Women’s Spring Retreat speaker at our church, Southwood Lutheran in the AM.  It was an awesome program called “Noticed by Jesus” by Amy Johnson, founder and owner of The Noticed Network.  Just as we were hoping, this turned out to be a lovely way to start the day and got us thinking about what we do to get noticed these days. In the end, it was comforting to be reminded that God loves us JUST AS WE ARE. To quote the newest song I put up on the Jammin’ page and here: “You see the struggle, you see the shame. I see the reason I came.” – Mac Powell (When Love Sees You). To take a step back from our perfection obsessed society and be reminded that God loves, adores our scars, imperfections, quirks, and ‘problem areas’ was so good. Also, The Noticed Network is a really great cause and you should check it out more!

Later on her birthday we eventually popped open a bottle of Freixenet cava (Spanish sparkling wine), which is delicious and festive, and grilled out – since Scott was home for the weekend! My cousin Wade and his best friend, Joel ended up joining us for dinner and it was perfect! Grilled chicken with Stubbs Moppin’ Sauce from MS, Mom’s homemade potato salad, grilled veggies, and fruit. It was awesome just to get to leisurely enjoy birthdays and being present for family time. Trying to soak it all up! At the end of the day we ended up watching The Imitation Game, which I highly recommend if you haven’t seen it yet!

 

Hogar Dulce Hogar

Time at home… has been awesome! Sorry for the delayed post but better late than never right? I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to see family, friends, and meet a pretty sweet new baby (looking at you, Michael). Highlights have included going out in Omaha with my Phi’s, getting to dine at the Green Gateau with quality company multiple times, and going out with my oldest friends here in Lincoln. On my first weekend home, I got to meet cute baby Michael, my cousin Evan and his wife, Kristin’s first-born. He is such a sweet, happy lil guy! I have also loved getting to see new spots in Lincoln (at least new for me) like Hacienda Real, The Doughnut HoleThe FlatwaterPaper KiteSelect StyleDempsey’s, and Honest Abe’s. So much good stuff with my favorite people.

It’s definitely been great to come back to favorite spots in LNK… I have also loved getting to try Lotus yoga classes with Hayley, seeing Jank’s new gallery, tailgating on Barry’s roof for the Spring game, and relaxing at home with my mom and Lucy! I have kept busy with driving my mom around, trying to help her as much as possible around the house, visiting friends, and continuing my work with Family Box.  The photos below were taken from our trip to visit Aunt Charlotte down in Summit, MS over the Easter weekend.

My mom and I flew into Jackson, MS on the first day of April and then drove south to Summit. God bless Enterprise – we definitely were digging our upgraded ride. We had been planning this trip for a while, as we were going to help my (great) Aunt C recover from her first cataract surgery. Aunt C is nearly 90 years old and lives alone in the country (her late husband passed last year). It was both of our first time seeing her since we had been there for Uncle Bill’s funeral; suffice it to say that losing your spouse of 60 years is not easy and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. That being said, Aunt C had been holding up on her own, still cooks a mean chicken n’ dumpling, and is a fiercely loyal member of her nearby Baptist church. Pictured above our just a few snapshots from our time down south — the ever-tasty Krystal burgers on the road, our favorite spot out for southern cooking: the Dinner Bell in McComb, and my personal love affair with the Topisaw General Store on McComb’s Main Street.

I feel the need to go ahead and spell this out for those of you unfamiliar with southern cooking: While in MS we had fried chicken, fried eggplant, rice and gravy, biscuits and tomato gravy, spicy sausage, seafood gumbo, cheese grits, bread pudding, Blue Bell ice cream, sweet potatoes, chicken n’ dumplings, fried catfish, peas, beans, squash, and strawberries with coconut cake. Holy deliciousness. It was awesome because my mom’s good friend, Jean, came over from Baton Rouge to meet us at the famed Dinner Bell. It was nice to get to spend the Easter holiday with my mom and Aunt Charlotte there. Since we have been back in NE, Aunt C has broken her hip. She already had surgery and is recovering well, but we would greatly appreciate any prayers!

Now back in LNK I am just loving the spring weather and getting to walk Lucy daily. The Spring game this last weekend was too much fun. I am definitely looking forward to Saturday – it’s my mom’s, Beth’s and my Uncle Al’s birthdays. Scott is coming home from MN tomorrow night and then let the weekend begin! I am really missing Damian, friends, and Barcelona in general at this point.. But when I have further life updates I will share them! Until then…

A Perfect Love Story

So this is the first time I’ve written a blog post from up in the air in an airplane… But this post has been a long-time coming. For a week now I’ve been meaning to start writing this post, but as life would have it, things have delayed its creation until now. I have been wanting to write about this topic since several weeks ago when my church in Barcelona, ICB, started the series: “Redeemed – A Journey Through the Book of Ruth.” While I had always known there was a book in the Bible called Ruth, I wasn’t familiar with the story at all really. I’m happy to say I now feel well-versed in the small, yet mighty book of Ruth and wanted to share some awesome stuff with yall.

So the book of Ruth starts with Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, and their family as they move from Bethlehem to Moab. For those of you who are also lacking in extensive Bible knowledge like myself, here’s the Spark-notes version: Naomi followed her husband and two sons from their home in Bethlehem, where there was famine, to Moab in hopes of a new start and more prosperous life. This is significant because they were leaving behind God’s land and trying to go it on their own essentially. Also noteworthy, the people of Bethlehem generally held Moab and Moabites in a negative light due to the history of their lineage.

After some time in Moab, all we know is that Naomi’s two sons married Moabite women, and both of her sons and her husband end up dying there. So Naomi is left with her two daughters-in-law and that’s about it. Especially back in this time, this would have been a pretty destitute situation. Hence, Naomi urges the two women to go back to their families in Moab and there they can attempt to re-marry and have a good life still. One of the daughters obliges Naomi’s request and bids them farewell before leaving to return to her family in Moab. Ruth, on the other hand, says no. Despite all of Naomi’s prodding, Ruth is resolute in her loyalty and commitment to sticking with her mother-in-law. It is here that Ruth uttered the well-known verse of “where you go, I will go; where you live, I will live.” As Naomi explains to her that she is planning on returning to Bethlehem, Ruth goes even further by saying “your land will be my land, your God my God.”

And so as the two women make the journey from Moab to Bethlehem, we learn about how Naomi wants to change her name to something that means, literally, bitter. As our Lead Pastor, John Carrano, said during service, “This was big. That’s like going through a rough patch in your life and deciding to change your name to Failure.” Moreover, both women were dealing with their own unearned disgrace. Naomi came back to Bethlehem basically like a dog with her tail between her legs. She felt ashamed of what had become of her life, though what happened was not her fault in the least. Hello unearned disgrace. Then we have Ruth, who has to deal with the unearned disgrace of being a Moabite, a foreigner.

I bet a lot of people can relate to these women who were working through shouldering this unearned disgrace, right? With all of the labels and quick-judgments of today’s world, most of us have experienced some unearned disgrace by this point. For example, the fact that I didn’t end up going to an Ivy-League university caused unearned disgrace to fester within myself for a good amount of time. That disgrace was certainly unearned, but man it was heavy. But let’s get back to the good stuff…

Ruth and Naomi are settling into a new life in Bethlehem. Ruth goes to the fields to try and gather the leftover scraps of barley. She soon finds herself in the field of a distant relative of Naomi’s, Boaz. Boaz had heard of Ruth before he met her in person, for the story of her unfailing loyalty to Naomi was hot news. Upon their meeting, Boaz shows favor on Ruth for these reasons, and invites her to continue finding food in his fields and to work with the other women there. Suffice it to say, Ruth was shocked at his favor and kindness.

So as the time passes and barley harvest goes to wheat harvest, Naomi eventually prompts Ruth to approach Boaz… (The women were hoping to be redeemed by a male relative of Naomi’s husband. This was the only way they would possibly have a prosperous future, restore the legacy of Naomi’s family, and ensure land for future generations). In Chapter 3, Ruth presents herself to Boaz with the utmost humility, and in response Boaz promises her their redemption.

Then in Chapter 4, Boaz follows through with his promises and goes through the ritual of asking the man who was first in line to redeem them (technically). This man declines on hearing that Ruth is part of the deal, and so Boaz and him finalize the arrangement with Boaz promising to redeem Ruth and Naomi (aka he’ll marry Ruth, restore their family’s land to their late husband’s last name, have a family, etc.). Towards the end of Chapter 4, we learn that Ruth and Boaz have a son, and in the end their family’s lineage leads to King David, the greatest King Israel ever knew.

My favorite thing I learned from the Book of Ruth is what ICB’s other Lead Pastor, Brandi Carrano, introduced as “HESED” – this Hebrew word does not have an exact English translation, but means compassionate love, loving-kindness, and love in action. Hesed is also said to be a vertical action, as in God shows Hesed to people, and then from one person to another person – as Hesed is also a reciprocal action. Hesed is mentioned 248 times in the Old Testament; it is through Hesed that people are redeemed and legacies are rebuilt.

I like the idea of Hesed because it goes in stark contrast with lots of modern ideals, such as self-interest, self-pity, greed, and so much more. I can’t recall now if it was Brandi or John who said this, but this really spoke to me: “If we can’t take our eyes off of ourselves, than we cannot be agents of redemption.” Showing love, compassion, and interest in others isn’t always easy, but it’s what we were created to do. God redeeming us is the most beautiful love story of all time. And even better, it’s a love story that has no end. Today, tomorrow, or the next day if you posture yourself towards God and humble yourself at his feet, God will show you Hesed. I guess overall, being familiar with the Book of Ruth has made me feel quite lucky and reaffirmed by belief that our God is for us.

In other news, I miss Barcelona and all of my friends there! But I am very happy to get to spend some time at home with my family and friends here. This last weekend was a whirlwind of activity but I loved it! Although I am currently suffering from serious allergy problems here, it has been so great to spend time with the people I care about most. More on my time in Lincoln to come…

 

Enjoy the Ride.

The last few weeks have flown by! In between Valentine’s Day and now, I have observed Lent, gotten more into my ICB Community Group, and had my last week nannying for Ferran’s girls, Mar and Clara. All last week the new nanny, Mateja, shadowed me as we got the girls all ready and off to school and then the PM routine as well. She’s from Slovenia, and seems sweet and capable; it’s definitely bittersweet, though, to see that chapter close.

Whether flying solo, with our gal’s small group, or simply meeting a friend (Hannah) for coffee, I’ve also continued trying new places and continue to fall in love with most. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m relatively easy to please, or if it’s that there are innumerable cute spots with great food and drink. Whichever the case, I am now a big fan of Oma Bistró and Caravelle.

Oma Bistró (c/ Consell de Cent, 227) is a bright, open, trendy spot as of late that’s located in Eixample. While I’ve only personally tried their original coffee (the “Stumpy” – a twist on a flat white), I’m looking forward to tasting their cheesecake, craft beers, and myriad brunch offerings. Sadly, the name does not have anything to do with Omaha, I asked; rather, Oma happens to mean “grandma” in German.

Caravelle (c/ Pintor Fortuny, 31) is an Australian owned homey café in Raval. I finally crossed this place off my to-try list when I met Hannah there last week to catch up over coffee and talk social media stuff. Our waitress was super nice and friendly (turned out she was from Miami), and I ordered a chai latte while Hannah opted for the standard café con leche. Not after too long, though, they brought out freshly baked strawberry and ricotta cheese muffins. Needless to say, we had to share one. It was heavenly… arguably the best muffin I’ve ever had. Lovely spot in general –definitely recommend!

Juicy Jones (c/ Hospital, 74) is also located in the heart of Raval. Juicy Jones, in terms of the physical space, is covered in bright, attractive murals from floor to ceiling. A juice bar and vegan restaurant with reasonable prices, Juicy Jones is sure to please the masses. I am not entirely sure what I ended up ordering but it was green and bubbling and delicious.

I already posted about my calçotada experience, which was delightful and I would love to do that every weekend. Staying with my Lent intentions has been good, though some days quite challenging. The hardest one by far has been to work on my blog daily, which if you’re unfamiliar with blogging, actually requires a substantial amount of effort and work. Especially when I got a cold/flu thing last week so that has been extra fun!

Preview for this week: an upcoming post on my take on the chapter of Ruth, Mexican send-off dinner with my awesome community group, meeting Hannah’s best friend who’s in town for the week, watching Dylan and baby Ryan a few last times, gift shopping, and packing!

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A Beautiful (Creative) Mind

Recently I read a wonderful article on Canva’s blog, called “10 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently.” Written by Andrew Tate, the article outlined ten examples of how creative people function to the beat of their own drum in order to foster the success of their artistically inclined work habits. I identified to the entirety of the post and wanted to add my two cents to Tate’s take on the matter…

  1. “They create a custom work routine and stick with it” — True. Personally, I am a night owl and function well later in the day. Just being awake before 8am is still a struggle, let alone high-level thinking, creating, or decision-making. Since living in Barcelona and not having a 9-5 work schedule, I have definitely realized that I am more productive and can focus better on the task at hand if I follow the flow of my work process, as opposed to saying “okay from 9-12 I’m going to write and that is final.” You just have to figure out what works for you and do it!
  2. “They can recognize their worst work, not just their best” — As Tate detailed, “highly creative people are often easily bored” and can “often be the world’s most willful procrastinators.” Amen to that brother.  Hence why we create specific routines to make sure we stay on task and ensure focus.
  3. “They have a healthy appetite for new experiences” — Citing Einstein as a prime example of someone who sought out various ways to satiate their creative diet, we’re reminded of the importance to seek new avenues for artistic and imaginative expression. There are innumerable ways in which one can express their creative side, whether it be fashion, art, performing, the written word, design, cooking, wood-working, etc.
  4. “They know what they don’t like” — Tate spells this one out for us: “…they don’t like to follow pointless rules and will often try to circumvent rules they don’t think they need to follow.” Definitely guilty there. There are few things that eek me more than an utterly pointless rule that us regular folk must follow. Give me a break.
  5. “They take risks, and they fail” — In general, we know that successful people (across the board) see obstacles as challenges to overcome and opportunities to push themselves forward. That goes along with the idea that failure is inevitably part of the journey, or in this case, creative process, and you simply must continue onward, as Elizabeth Gilbert would say.
  6. “They aren’t afraid to daydream” — I totally related to this one… I mean how can you see the potential of something or imagine what something could be without some good daydreaming? Tate explains by saying: “Daydreaming is just allowing your imagination free rein within your brain.” I often find that my best moments of inspiration arrive whilst letting my mind wander. I also related to this one in the sense that I am very much so a person who thinks for fun; I love an intense game of Boggle or Banana Grams.
  7. “They take in the world around them” — This one just spoke to my soul… “Curiosity is paramount for a highly creative person… Personal experience is important as well.” New experiences = new/ more inspiration. Writer’s block is a slow, grueling death. At the end of the day, people want to read a good story and what better way to do that then to get out there and experience something new, then relay it back. This blog would not be possible if I didn’t new things and therefore have new things to share.
  8. “They have confidence” — Here Tate makes the point that most people have a substantial creative capacity, it’s just that they’re held back by a lack of confidence.  Moreover, it boils down to having the ability to trust yourself, believing you’re on the right track, and being determined. The other side of this coin, is that highly creative people know that they are sometimes their own worst enemies. Aka when you shoot yourself in the foot  by waiting to do something to the last minute or letting your anxieties run wild and cloud your mind. Personally, I have found that I work (and more specifically, write) better as a deadline approaches because I trust my ideas and just let it flow out in hyper-speed.
  9. “They aren’t afraid to ask questions” — Again – curiosity is key! Asking questions and being open to constructive criticism is a non-negotiable in the creative process. Let others help you if you’re struggling getting those stagnant creative juices flowing. Often times just utilizing a different perspective or hearing a new angle can solve any problem you’re facing.
  10. “They follow their dreams” — Duh, of course they do! Follow your passion and make your creative pursuits happen. That’s the beauty of living a creative life – though perhaps difficult, it’s guaranteed to be fulfilling. I feel at my personal best when I’m actively creating.

 *Original article by Andrew Tate via Canva’s blog

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First Time For Everything

My birthday was lovely… It was my first birthday away from my family and good friends, but Damian, his family, and my friends here spoiled me. The actual birthday was spread out in about a week’s worth of festivities – one night I went to a cabaret show here (The Hole 2) with my old host-mom, Marta, and a mutual friend, Janelle, as a joint bday celebration for Marta and myself. It was a racy show and I probably blushed through the majority of it but some pretty good stand-up acts and amazing circus type performances. I was impressed and it was a fun first time experience.

The celebrations continued by having a delicious brunch at Marmalade with my gal friends here on Saturday the 7th. There are few ways I’d rather start my day than with Eggs Benedict and a mimosa. That night Damian and I went to our favorite pizzeria (Tío Mario) and then got drinks at Balius Bar, a cute old-school cocktail bar in Poblenou. On my actual birthday, when I got home from church at ICB, Damian and his dad had made a large quantity of milanesa, homemade fries, and a bizcocho cake. So far 24 has been lovely!

Día de San Valentín: The day started off lovely with donuts at Lukumas with the gals and then spent some quality time hangin’ with them. I had my first legit Valentine’s Day plans this year. For my birthday, the parents of the American family for which I nanny gave me a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant in the city, Santa Gula. So we made reservations early, and then Saturday the 14th Damian and I had dinner there – the food and wine were amazing and the atmosphere was cozy yet light. Also, first time getting Valentine’s Day flowers!

I am still loving my church here, ICB, and I am now in a new small group that is led by a missionary couple from Texas and Kansas- they are missionaries here that are working to open a dream center in Raval (a very diverse inner city area of BCN)- So I’m hoping to get involved in that helping in some way or another. Also, looking forward to going to my first ever Calçotada tomorrow afternoon in Les Planes with Awaken, the young adults group at ICB. Good company + an onion BBQ? Yep!

I’m also getting super excited to be coming home soon! Woo hoo! Less than 3 weeks!

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UberEATS

Free meal from Feeld Organic

 

Highlight of the day was a delightful surprise from Uber Spain… although months ago they got the legal boot from Spain, today they’re coming back strong with the debut of UberEats! While you may not be able to use Uber as a taxi service here, you can now order food from the best restaurants around Barcelona and get it delivered to your door in less than 15 minutes, guarantee! Their lunch time debut starred a salmon, quinoa, veggie bowl from Barcelona’s own Feeld Organic today between the hours of 12:30 and 15:30.

Using promo codes of “ubereatsbcn” / “zoomeats” / or “feeldorganic” your order was completely FREE up to 15 euros. Hence, for Damian and I to get a steaming hot, healthy, delicious meal delivered to the apartment in less than ten minutes from when we ordered it cost me a grand total of 5 euros! Not bad, UberEats not bad. Download the app and make sure you’re not missing out on these deals! Such a good variety of food available on their online menu too!

Love is this. Love is that.

Most people are familiar with the bible verse that details the nature of love in its purest form. This particular verse was in fact my confirmation verse back in the day- first Corinthians 13: 4-8 states: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.”

I don’t know about you, but I can’t help myself from having mixed emotions upon hearing that verse. I mean there’s comfort – I know no matter how many mistakes I make in this life, my mom will patiently love me infinity times infinity forever. Then there’s frustration with myself – as a mere mortal I constantly struggle with envy, pride, and anger despite my best intentions to love on people. And then there’s joy, a rapturous all-encompassing joy at the knowledge that God’s love is never-ending and at the end of the day love will always win.

This verse has been on my mind lately, since it was one of the selected verses for our small group bible study this week. It’s been a healthy reminder to me that while receiving love from others is so wonderful and fulfilling and needed, it’s equally or even more important to shower those around you with selfless, honest, and persevering love. Personally, I’m trying to focus on being slow to anger, critically examining sources of envy and pride, and loving people for who they are and where they are currently in this life.

Some life updates for any inquiring minds… I am still finishing up the application process to the UPF and Barcelona School of Management Masters program; I’m hoping to schedule my interview (aka the last step in the process) in the very near future. Otherwise, I have been busy nannying my Catalan gals and American boys. Damian and I joined Anytime Fitness in mid-December and have been pretty diligent about going 4-5 per week. I dig the Pilates classes and being able to watch the New York Times’ videos whilst getting down on the elliptical.

Family Box is going strong and I enjoy the work I’m doing there; I learn something new (usually many things) daily and the work is fulfilling and relevant. On another work note, last week I had the exciting opportunity to interview for a marketing position at Pronovias, the high-end Spanish bridal company. Conducted entirely in Spanish at their headquarters in El Prat, the interview went well and now I’m just playing the old waiting game. Whatever happens, it was a cool experience to have under my belt.

Rainy Poblenou
Rainy Poblenou

Yesterday I finished reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Not knowing much about the story aside from the fact that it was about a woman who hikes, I was pleasantly surprised by the memoir. I’m all about a transformative journey as told by a young female narrator, and it was refreshing to learn about something new (the world of hiking).

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Cherry Lips, Crystal Skies

How today is the first day of December, signaling that November already happened for this calendar year, is mind-boggling to me. Where did November go? Time is flying! It’s been…way too long since my last entry here, but I shall attempt to make up for lost time.

Halloween: I didn’t have a costume planned until the morning of Halloween, when Mar (7) told me, considering the fact that I had nothing at this point in time, to borrow her neon-blue, waist-length wig for the occasion. She recommended I go as a “Blue Vampire.” So I heeded her advice and after nannying went to hunt down some cheap vampire teeth. At my third china-store (the Spain equivalent to the dollar store), I found a pair for 1 euro; as I tried them on my way out, I realized that I couldn’t move my mouth at all with the teeth in, which would make socializing at a party difficult. Hence, at the last minute I switched to dressing up as a blue-wigged witch for Gabi’s Halloween gathering in el Borne.

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November highlights… Bible study. Studying for GRE. Nannying. GRE. Gabi and I have continued our weekly bible study on Tuesday mornings at a wide variety of local cafés and eateries including Satan’s Coffee Corner (ironic I know), Milk, Molika, and Gabi’s apartment. Recently I finally had the chance to go to the church Gabi had been raving about, the International Church of Barcelona, and I’m sold! Compared to the aesthetically beautiful but substantially vacant masses of old here, ICB’s noon service features a live band, an amazing couple as the lead pastors, and a contagious energy that makes you want to get involved on a deeper level. I am excited to go to the women’s small group in the near future.

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So the GRE officially happened. The actual test day experience was even more formal and TSA security-like than I had expected. I was pleasantly surprised that there were noise-canceling earphones offered by the testing center. My experimental section ended up being Verbal and overall I felt like it went alright. Immediately afterwards as I stared dubiously at my “unofficial scores” for the verbal and quantitative sections I was a bit disappointed in myself but it could have gone worse. Yesterday I finally was able to see my official scores, including the analytical writing bit, and all I can say is: it is what it is. I am hoping to not have to take the GRE again, but we shall see.

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Last week I had the special opportunity to visit the Barcelona Food Bank with Jesús, my retired friend from last year’s intercambio at the library. Jesús does year-round volunteer work with them in their fundraising efforts, and he was nice enough to give a real behind the scenes tour of the whole operation. It was cool to see the actual warehouse too, the whole place preparing for the annual Gran Recapte (annual city-wide food drive). Last Friday evening I volunteered for the Food Bank at a grocery store, encouraging shoppers to donate and helping sort the donated items. Cass and I volunteered for the event last year as well, and I’m glad I got to help out again. On Thanksgiving day I had a meeting at ISA with Raquel to discuss the Masters at UPF. I’m really excited about applying for this program and getting that ball rolling if you will! More on that to come.

Later on Thanksgiving day I took the metro over to Cynthia and Will’s for a holiday get together with their friends and family. The best part was definitely getting to meet Mr. Ryan Alexander, the newest addition to Dylan’s family! He is a precious little baby who slept right until we all sat down to eat, naturally. It was wonderful to get to celebrate on Thursday with great people and a yummy homemade spread. Saturday Night Damian and I went to a belated Thanksgiving celebration at Janelle’s apartment near Lesseps. As I sadly have, in my mind, too little experience in cooking the traditional T-day side dishes, I opted to bring a fresh fruit salad to the potluck meal. Per the usual, Marta was the life of the party and had us all in stitches with her stories and contagious laugh.

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In other news, my virtual book club’s November read was Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl. I saved her novel of essays until post-GRE, but I finished it within a few days. I have also now watched the first season of her hit HBO show, Girls. I appreciate her dry humor and honest portrayal of the ups and downs of life of a 20something. I am now reading Janet Fitch’s White Oleander and would (thus far) recommend both. Damian and I are apartment hunting, hoping to move into a new place by the new year. My effort on this search so far has made me realize how incredibly lucky Cass and I were last year in how we found our place. It takes time and effort but I’m really excited by the thought that Damian and I will soon have our own place to call home!

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