Items I Forgot At Home That I Wish I Had Studying Abroad

Hello all!  I can’t believe summer is almost over.  While I had an amazing time studying abroad in the first half of the summer, I have been working every day this last half.  It has been nice to get back into my work routine.  While I have been doing this, I realized that there were many items to which I found myself saying “wow that would have helped”.  Here is a list of things I wish I had brought (or was really glad that I did) in my travels:

  • Carabiners
    • These came in handy so many times.  Whether I needed to swing my Chacos or my water bottle onto my purse/backpack, they were always helpful.
      • Bonus, they hardly take up any room and you can leave them hanging on your bag because no one really wants to steal a couple of carabiners
  • Refillable water bottle
    • My Nalgene was used to its full capacity in Italy.  It was so nice to have a water bottle to fill up, especially in 105-degree heat.  I did not want to spend 6 euros on water every hour.  Filling this up at the water fountains helped keep me hydrated.
      • Bonus, pack this by stuffing your socks or other small items in it to save space in your suitcase.
      • Yes, I did drink out of fountains that I probably shouldn’t have been.  But drinking potentially dangerous water is better than becoming dehydrated, right?
  • Watch
    • This was something I did not have but really wish I did.  While walking at a fast pace, it was time-consuming to have to stop and dig my phone out of its secret hiding place in my purse.  It was so easy for my friends to just check their watch to see if we were on time en route to our next location.
  • Data
    • I totally cheeped out on buying data and wish I hadn’t.  I waited two weeks before I decided to buy a sim card for my phone- a sim card that I later had issues with and ended up not having data anyway.  If you are in another country longer than or up to 3 weeks, I would highly recommend buying a sim card (if your phone is unlocked).  It will allow you to be free from relying on other people, will make it much easier to travel, and you will know you can call the authorities if you were ever in an emergency.
      • Bonus: If you get lost or have something scary happen to you like me, it will really be helpful. I blogged about my crazy experience in Paris, if you haven’t read it you can find it here.
  • Day pack instead of a purse
    • I made the mistake of choosing fashion over convenience.  While my purse was nice to have, I constantly wished I had a bigger bag.  Two of my friends were carrying Kavus and it made me wish I had my little day hiking bag with me.  They could carry water bottles, their wallet, chapstick, etc, along with bigger items like jackets.  I, unfortunately, could barely fit my wallet and other little things in my bag along with my water bottle.  Even then, I would not be able to close the top of my purse.

  • Good walking shoes
    • Similar to my purse, I wish I had only brought my comfortable walking shoes.  I brought two pairs of boots that I only wore once (read why I didn’t get to use them in this post), a pair of flats, and my Chacos.  The only time I really wore my flats was in London and my feet killed me.  By the end of the night, I would get back to the hostel with bruises on the soles of my feet.  At the end of the 6 weeks, I was down to just using my Chacos.  When I was in them, my feet were perfectly fine.

Don’t forget these things when you head out on a big or small trip anywhere!  They will make your trip a little bit easier.

 

With love,

Mattie

And God Remembered His Covenant

Don’t we serve an amazing and just God?  I have been slowly making my way through the Bible, attempting to breakdown every book and every verse.  As I have been doing this, I have seen more and more of the greatness of God and his promises.

We begin to see His promises and how He follows through as early as Genesis.  Genesis 17:7 says,

And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

God tells Abram, now Abraham, that He promises to reward him by looking after his family line for years to come.

Later in Exodus, the Israelites were suffering immensely as slaves of the Pharaoh.  They remained faithful to God and prayed to him for relief from their suffering. God heard their groaning and responded by using Moses to rescue God’s people.

During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

Exodus 2:23-25

Isn’t it amazing that God not only listens to our cries, but He follows up on His promises?  He is a righteous and just God. It is so cool that God gives us this amazing tool so that we can learn more about Him and His nature.

Where in the bible have you witnessed God fulfill His promises?  How has reading about them and attempting to align your actions according to His will adjusted your growth in faith?

Related posts: All In God’s Timing

With love,

Mattie

The Dazzling City of Paris

Below is a list of some of my favorite sites that I got to explore while in Paris.  Skip to number 11 if you want to read about my absolute favorite area!

Related: Paris, the City of Lights, Pickpockets, and Undercover Cops: Part One

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  1. Louvre Museum: This is the museum everyone has heard about or seen a picture of, and it was one of my favorite things to see in Paris!  I absolutely love art and was sad we only had 2 hours to explore.  I ventured in the greek sculptures for most of my time in the museum.  If you have time after walking through the museum, check out the gardens that are right outside.  They are beautiful!

Pro tip: if you are a European student you can get in free with your student ID!

2. Les Deux Plateaux:  This is a really cool area outside of the Lourve museum and is a great picture spot!  Take your friends here and get a couple of pictures to remember your time in Paris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Take a cruise on the river Seine:  This is a great way to briefly see some of the most famous attractions in Paris.  We did a cruise at sunset with the Bateaux Mouches company and loved the entire ride.

4. Take some time to just walk along the river:  This was so interesting.  On an afternoon when it had cooled down a bit, my friends and I walked along the river and people watched.  There were tons of people out visiting, playing instruments in big groups, and just having a good time.  Some of the best street art was along the river as well.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Obviously, go see the Eiffel tower:  There is not much to say about this one, I am pretty sure this is on most peoples’ bucket list!  The most important thing is to make sure to see it during the day and at night if you can.  Both views are equally spectacular.

 6. Arc De Triumph & Champs Elysees:  Make sure you stop to see the Arc De Triumph and if you have a bit of time, make the hike to the top for a spectacular view of the city.  I decided to do this instead of going up the Eiffel Tower because I wanted the Tower to be apart of my spectacular city view.

Pro tip:  Buy your tickets ahead of time, or even online right outside of the Arc, because it will save you so much time getting in.  Two of my friends decided last minute that they wanted to go up with us, so they bought their tickets online right there and skipped a huge line of people who were waiting just to get a ticket.

7. Notre Dame:  It was so sad to see the cathedral scarred from fire.  However, it was still worth walking by.  You can also see this on one of the river Seine tours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Cool bridges along the Seine: One of the most famous bridges we walked across was the Pont Alexandre III.  It is gorgeous!  Two more in the area are Pont Des Art and Pont Neuf.

 

 

 

 9. Versailles:  I was personally not a fan of Versailles.  To me, it was not worth the 27 Euros (30 USD) because there just wasn’t much to see.  I am not crazy about big, gaudy mansions that rulers built when they could have been helping out so many other people in need with that money. 

That being said, if you are a big history fan this may be a place you want to visit.  However, make sure you are buying the right ticket.  It is was too far out of the way from central Paris to get there and realize you bought the wrong ticket!  My favorite part of Versailles Palace was the gardens.  I lost my friends at some point and my friends quickly found me wandering the gardens (if you know me, you know that looking outside is the best place to start when I get lost).  They were magnificent! 

10. Sacre-Cœur:  This was so interesting and stunning.  Beware, it is a little bit of a hike to get to the top.  My friends and I were feeling the incline because of the fatigue from not getting much sleep.  We noticed several groups of people who were stopped on the side catching their breath.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. My absolute favorite place in all of Paris, Montmartre: This is a little city at the top of the hill just behind the Sacre-Cœur.  Everywhere we walked here, seemed like it was straight out of a fairy tale.  The streets were exactly what I dreamed Paris would look like.  I could go on and on about how gorgeous they were, or I could show you.  Below are some of my favorite pictures that I felt like truly explained what we saw.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me know, what sights of Paris are you excited to see?

With love,

Mattie

Defeated, Broken, Hurt Thoughts

What do you do when you are broken, mentally exhausted, and feel defeated? Sometimes I am so worried, so anxious, so hurt that I sometimes can’t think beyond a couple words. I need to cry out and allow myself to let some of my emotions out.

Not long ago, I had a moment like this.

I curled up on my bed and just kept repeating-

The Lord my God is my savior.

Over and over. When I feel like this, nothing helps. Not talking to a friend or eating ice cream. The only thing that ever makes me feel like there is hope, is repeating these words to myself over and over. Because God is hope and sometimes He is all you got, and that is enough to get you through whatever you are going through.

A lot of people see Christians and believe that we chose the easy life. That we haven’t had any hardships and that is why it is so “easy” to believe in God.

It is actually quite the opposite. Beliving in God and living our lives trying to imitate Jesus, is very very hard. It would be extremely easier to forgo everything we know about the bible and live a life ignoring our sin.

Choosing to live your life for Him is not easy. God tests you and put you through trials, but that is the beauty of faith. I know in my heart that no matter what I am going through, God will pull me out of the situation I am in and make me a stronger and better person because of it.  He is good.

Jesus did not come to earth and claim that we would live an easy life. He came to spread his glory throughout the world, and to tell us that we are living in sin and we will never be able to handle the hardships of this world on our own.

But with God, we can handle anything. Because He is the Almighty, the Great I Am, the Redeemer, the King of Kings.

So when you are on the floor, crying out because you are hurting, find comfort in the great love of our God.

With love,

Mattie

Related post: 4 Truths About Grief 

4 Truths About Grief

Hello all,

I recently had someone very important in my life pass away.  It is always arduous, learning how to deal with an emotion as fierce as grief.

It is indescribable.  No one can understand what another person is feeling, because we all go through these hardships in unique ways.  

As I have been learning how to deal with my heartache, I have learned a few things from the bible study I have been completing.

Side note:  I have added in links so that you can access these verses on bible.com.  

You are not alone in your grief. 

Not only are there millions of people suffering around the world, but even Jesus experienced pain and sorrow during his brief time on earth. (John 11:35)  He knows what you are going through, and He is the only one who knows how to heal your heart. (Psalm 147:3)

God hates death just as much as you and me.

God hates death because He hates sin.  No matter how dreadful the situation, we have to learn how to trust that God will make something beautiful out of the midst of such darkness.

God will use this experience to change the hearts of those around you.

He has a master plan.  (Isaiah 46:9-11) Whether it is you or someone else close to the person who passed away, God will use this experience to change hearts.  He will use it for good, not evil.

God does not expect you to understand His ways.

When someone close to you passes away, it is hard to understand God’s reasons. (Isiah 55:8-9) His ways are not our ways and we do not have the complexity to understand God because we are not God ourselves.   We have to remember that believing in the one true God is understanding that we can never comprehend Him or why He does what He does. While we can never truly understand the “whys” of everything, He does expect you to trust Him.  Trust, even in your suffering as you are reading the word and getting to know Him as much as humanly possible. (Isaiah 41:10)  He gives us enough to follow Him, but not enough to understand Him.  (Deuteronomy 29:29)

These are some things that I am working through, and if you are missing a loved one, you probably are too.  Don’t give up hope.

With love,

Mattie

Related: Here are some tips for when you are struggling with getting up in the mornings and need a little boost.

 

 

 

My Dating App Experience: 4 Things I’ve Learned

Dating can be hard at a predominantly women’s school. And let’s be honest, the men in my life are really more like boys.

So what did I do? I got on a dating app. I know, sounds crazy. But here is the thing, I don’t have time to wait around for the people who are already in my life to grow some and realize how amazing I am.

So yay! Dating. The big, scary word.

Here are some things I have learned in the past couple of weeks being on this app:

  1. People are creeps and will ask things that are WAY too personal. Questions that shouldn’t be asked until at least a couple of dates in.
  2. Watch out for the fakes. Specifically, I ran across a lot of fake Christians. This has been the most difficult parts of dating online. I haven’t met these people in person and have not had the chance to feel out where they are spiritually. A lot of people will write that they are a Christian in their bio and then a couple messages in make it obvious that they are not.
  3. It is easier than you would think to get in touch and match with people, and it is way harder than you would think to get a date if you are picky like me. I am not very good at texting, so I am straight up about that. But if I’m really digging someone, I will put in a little more effort to communicate. However, when my dating options are spread within a two-hour drive of where I live now, it makes it more difficult to set up dates than if I originally met someone in person.
  4. ANY red flag means back out of whatever plans or conversation you have gotten yourself into. And run the other way. As fast as you can.

These are four things I learned in my short time on a dating app. Let’s just say, I got bored pretty quickly.

In my opinion:

I do not think there is anything wrong with getting on a dating app, as long as you know who you are and what you are doing. One has to be careful not to get on an app with the wrong mindset. If you get on one, make sure that you are still trusting God and are not taking things into your own hands because you are growing impatient.

I recently gave up on the dating app for one reason: I did not feel like I was mentally prepared at this time in my life because of some things I recently went through. I realized on one specific date that I was listening to the dude I was hanging out with, but I wasn’t fully invested. Even though I thought I was ready to date, I quickly realized that I was not ready to try online dating specifically.

When the right person comes into my life, I will know. Until then, only face to face dating for me!

Have you had any luck with online dating? Have any crazy stories? Share in the comments below!

With love,

Mattie

I Don’t Want to Get Up

Most mornings I don’t want to get up.  I, sort of, wake up to the sound of my alarm and groggily try to do anything but fall back to sleep.  But if I do not sit up, take a deep breath, and take a few moments to focus on the positive, I won’t have a productive morning.

My way of getting through my morning when I am dreading my day is to remember why I am getting up.  Not only am I blessed in so many areas of my life, but there is always something to be grateful for at the beginning of the day.

Something as small as trying a new coffee or going to hang out with a friend after work can give me the motivation that I need to get up in the mornings when it is so hard.

Especially if you have post-long-vacation-in-Europe-laziness.  Totally guilty of that one.

If you have trouble waking up some mornings, stop and take a few moments to visualize and appreciate a part of the day you are about to conquer.

And then get up.  Just do it.  You can do anything with a positive mindset and God on your side!

With love,

Mattie

All In God’s Timing

I am sitting here, writing this on a 2-hour bus ride in London. As I stare out the window and think about all of the memories I have made, I can’t help but be so grateful for the places, people, and cultures I have been able to experience. I remember as a young girl, dreaming of the day I would go to Paris, London, Scotland, etc.  I had ugly pink posters with the Eiffel tower plastered on the front and dreamed of the day I would get to fly to Paris. As a little girl I wanted to travel so bad, I would write “Paris, London” on everything, believing that Paris was a city in London.  Imagine my surprise when I learned London and Paris are in two different countries entirely.

Today is the day I am going home. To be with my family and friends. While I am going home to great things, I am going to miss the memories I have made here like no other.

I have laughed, cried, been lost, and had a multitude of other events happen that have made me grow in ways I didn’t think I could in such a short time. This trip has made me a better world traveler and has ultimately changed my world view.

Most importantly, this trip has reassured me of how great God is. He blessed me with such amazing friends that I was able to spend this time with and He brought me to places that I truly have dreamed about visiting for years.

It wouldn’t have been possible without God. I have heard so many times: The Savior blesses those who serve Him.  It is refreshing to watch Him change my life as I have come to know Him better.

I didn’t think this trip would be possible for a long time, but He always pulls through.

Ask and you shall receive, in His timing. I had my ups and downs, but God was having me wait to begin traveling for this specific time in my life. He always has a plan!

For those who keep asking how I was able to make all of this happen, I have only one thing to tell you- All glory goes to God for this amazing trip.  I worked full time this past semester, went on a major financial budget, and applied for so many scholarships.  However, through the difficult times, He is the one who provided me with the will, strength, and opportunities so that I could travel throughout western Europe.  I couldn’t have done it without Him and the people that He strategically placed in my life when I needed strength!

It is so easy to pray and pray for things to change, and then as soon as they do forget who is actually behind the result.

Don’t forget God is on your side and He is the one who is blessing you.

With love,

Mattie

My Personal Growth With The Lord

In case you haven’t noticed by the direction that my blog posts have taken, I have grown more than I ever believed I could have in my faith recently.

Since moving to college I have dealt with so many emotions that have changed and challenged my faith.

If you know me well, you would know I have always been a  Christian. I grew up in a Christian household, however, I did not have the traditional go-to-church-every-Sunday practice.  I did not truly understand what Christianity was until I gave my life to the Lord at 14. Even then, I did not grow much until I left home for college.

For a long time, I did not fully give my life to the Lord.  I loved Him and I tried to live by my little understanding of His teachings.

When I came to college, I experienced a lot of new things.  Living with strangers, stressful environments, having to figure out how to be financially stable on my own, and possibly one of the most influential things- loneliness.

One day I began to realize where I was at: I was living a very superficial Christian life.  Yes, I was trying my best to love the Lord and live my life for him, but I was not living based off of his word.

I had never read the bible.  And I mean really, really read it.  Which means when I did begin to learn how to go to church and read the word of God, I was intimidated; which does NOT happen to me often.  I felt like I was so far behind everyone else, that there was no way I would ever “catch up”.

Then I realized, you cannot “catch up” to the spiritual path that other people are on because everyone is on their own path!

I asked Jesus to wash me of my sins and I devoted my life to him at 14.  Slowly, my relationship with Jesus grew. Later down the line, I began to understand that I needed to dive immensely deeper into his word and do things that I was not in the habit of doing in order to truly live my life for Him.

Sure I cannot recite scripture like it is second nature, and maybe my prayers are not beautiful, flowy, and wordy like those who grew up going to church every Sunday.

But I have something even more important, I have Jesus in my heart.  Knowing scripture and being apart of the church community is very important, but without the right intentions, that means nothing.  As a follower of Jesus, I have to learn how to balance all of these things.

I would never go back in time and wish I had been forced to go to church.

I know that when I finally found the Lord, I was doing it wholly for Him.  Not because my friends were doing it or my parents forced their beliefs on me.  I am going to church on Sundays and dedicating my life to Him because I want to and because he deserves that and so much more. 

Every time I go to church, pray for a friend and study the bible (as I am slowly, but surely learning how to do), I am growing my relationship with Christ.  Eventually, I have learned that I do not need anyone or anything but Him.

Jesus Christ is the Almighty, the all-powerful, the King of Kings, the Great I Am.  And I know I am not just reciting this from a song that I heard on the radio, but reciting it from my heart because Jesus found His way in there.

With Love,

Mattie