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Nov 27, 2013

With A Thankful Heart

I've been sitting here staring at the blinking cursor on my screen for about an hour now. Sometimes the words just won't come. Sometimes they've already been said and are just as relevant now as they were when I first said them. Seems to always be the case when I want to write about Thanksgiving. All the things I'm thankful for, I've been thankful for having the last 3 years of my life. Heck, for some things, even longer. I feel silly beating a dead horse. You know I'm thankful for my amazing husband, the opportunity to live abroad, my family, my friends, our health...all the things that make this life so good, I'm absolutely thankful for. But I guess the trick is genuinely being thankful for each of these blessings more than just one day a year. Why don't we write about all the ways we're thankful any other time of year? Are we any less thankful on St. Paddy's Day? Do we forget our blessings in June? Not likely. Life gets busy, days get shorter (or at least they seem to), and while it may not be intentional, we let Thanksgiving bare the weight of all our thankfulness for the entire year. Seems a shame America is so keen on skipping right over it. Poor Thanksgiving.

As I've been prepping for our last Thanksgiving abroad, I've also been reflecting on how amazing this past year has been, all the places we've visited and the mercy we've been shown. But as I've counted my blessings I've felt convicted in not sharing my thankfulness the whole year through. I, too, am guilty of letting the 4th Thursday of November solely bare the weight of my gratitude. That's when the thought hit me like a ton of bricks (the Lord is always good at that ton of bricks thing with me)...Thanksgiving should not be just a day, but a season. We should be shamelessly thankful all year round, no matter the day or the month or the condition of our hearts. Gratitude magnifies the good things in our lives. Life tastes better, looks better, and feels better with perpetuity of thanksgiving. Filling a moment with thanksgiving adds meaning to otherwise meaningless activities. Gratitude also helps us to endure the hard parts of life with dignity. We cheat ourselves when we choose to express our thankfuness just once a year, not to mention the ones we owe our gratitude to as well.

This year, I decided to give Thanksgiving a fighting chance. As much as I wanted to bust out my Christmas tree, forget the turkey (which I already can't stand anyway), and get on with my favorite holiday of the year, I'm taking time to savor Thanksgiving and its purpose in our ever-busying lives. Instead of expressing gratitude today only, I'm committing to sharing more of my thankful heart throughout the other 364 days of the year. I challenge each of you to a season of Thanksgiving, not just a day. Embrace the joy that a lifetime of thankfulness brings.

Well, that's all from Germany! I'm signing off for the rest of the week to be fully present in Thanksgiving this year. Here's wishing you full bellies and blessings this holiday season! Until next week...
Happy Thanksgiving, from our table to yours!

Nov 26, 2013

In Bruges: Part 3

I started writing about our first trip to Bruges almost a year ago. Then, other fun trips happened and I started writing about those instead. Why? Because I'm traveling too much for my own good and I can't wait to show you every destination we've been. I'm also suffering from overzealous travel blogger syndrome. I keep getting ahead of myself! If you need a refresher about the first of many Bruges trips we've taken, you can find those posts here and here. Now...more from Bruges.

On our first full day exploring Bruges (because those last two posts were just of our first night there...too much fun for one post!), the weather wasn't cooperating. We woke up to fog and rain and my heart sunk. I hate exploring new towns in the rain. Holding a camera and and umbrella just doesn't work for a photography enthusiast. Thankfully, after we ate breakfast in our charming B&B style hotel, the rain let up and the fog dissipated...just a bit. We started our tour of Bruges with a walk around the town. Bruges is pretty small, so it didn't take long to cover all its best parts. We jaunted in and out of numerous chocolate shops, stopped in for coffee and waffles to warm our cold bodies, and bought a few bottles of beer at a fun bottle shop just off the Markt square, but the highlight of our afternoon was visiting the De Halve Maan Brewery for a tour and a glass of their famous Bruges Zot! Our tour guide was HILARIOUS and gave one of the best tours of a brewery I'd ever taken. Not only was she super knowledgeable about Bruges' only remaining in-city brewery, but she answered all my burning questions about the Flemish culture and the filming of the movie In Bruges a few years back. Talk about being a nosy tourist! ;) She happily indulged me and made our Bruges beer touring experience just that much more enjoyable.

I am completely IN LOVE with everything about Bruges. The architecture, the canals, the chocolate, beer, pommes frites, and waffles...what's not to love? The city does a lovely job of making you feel like you've time-warped back to the 12th century. Like a page right out of some old storybook sitting on a dusty shelve. We loved Bruges so much that we ended up making a second trip back there for the Bruges Beer Festival just 3 months later. What can I say? We can't quit you, Bruges! Be on the lookout for more Bruges lovin' in posts to come. :)

Nov 25, 2013

A Snowy Hike In Zermatt

On our last full day in snowy Zermatt, we spent the morning getting in some last minute skiing while the afternoon was devoted exploring Zermatt's plethora of hiking trails. We really didn't do any serious hiking (our legs were already shot from skiing), but we did want to wander up a few of the mountain trails to snap photos and have ourselves a little fun in the snow. D got in a few good hits with some icy snowballs and in return for almost taking my eye out (I swear he really didn't hit me, just a really hilarious optical illusion), he bought us all a round of winter-themed cocktails at a cozy bar in the middle of town. The cocktail pictured above is a Toblerone martini. Tasted JUST like the Toblerone chocolate bars Switzerland is so famous for. The Bailey's hot cocoa was amazing as well, but when is it not? :) If you find yourself wandering Zermatt in need of a warm (or chocolatey) libation, Bar 55 has got you covered. And the decor is ski lodge chic, worth a look and a drink!

If you haven't already figured this out, Zermatt was hands down one of my favorite winter trips we've taken while stationed here in Europe. After seeing it romanticized on The Bachelor a few seasons ago, it absolutely didn't disappoint. From the pine tree-lined streets, twinkle lights, and falling snow, all the way to the bubbly cheese fondue and cozy ski chalets, I'd highly recommend a short (or long) skication in this quaint little winter wonderland. I so wish D and I had time to go back!

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