All Things Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, the beautiful area comprising of five coastal towns in Italy, has had a place near the top of my bucket list for some time, so when I started planning for this massive trip across Europe, I knew that Cinque Terre absolutely had to happen.  I recently spent three glorious days there in the middle of some sort of paradise, and, in retrospect, I wish I would have stayed a little longer, but that just means I'll have to go back, right?  I mean, you would have to be crazy to not want to spend as much time as possible in the picturesque villages etched in cliff-sides along the sparkling mediterranean sea.  I've had a lot of friends asking about what to do, where to stay, and how to travel around Cinque Terre, so whether you're an outdoorsy human who lives a good hike, a foodie craving some authentic Italian eats, or a beach bum who just wants to lay by the water, I've got you.  Here are, from my experience, alllll things Cinque Terre.

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Salsa Dancing in Barcelona

Prior to leaving for Europe, and prior to moving back to California for that matter, I had convinced myself that I needed to have a season of rest to be "spiritually ready" for such a long and adventurous trip.  I'd been working like a crazy person while in Nashville, logging in anywhere from 60-80 hours per week with all of my jobs, first to pay off debt and then to save for this trip, and was honestly really ready for that busy season to be over.  But once I was in California, I found it very difficult to not be "doing," and therefore didn't rest (to almost no one's surprise I am sure).  Then about two weeks before leaving for London, I had this massive realization that I hadn't done what I thought I was supposed to do (rest), and therefore thought I wasn't going to be ready for the trip because I hadn't spent enough time with Jesus.  But something in my spirit quickly revealed something else: that maybe all of that about rest and spiritual preparation was just some sort of plan I had concocted on my own and wasn't really from God after all, but that maybe — just maybe — the trip itself was the real season of rest and spiritual rejuvenation and growth.

Which brings me to Barcelona...

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Exploring Notting Hill

Last week, I dedicated much of a day to wandering around Notting Hill in London, and it did not disappoint, especially at the beginning of spring. From blooming cherry blossom trees to pastel-colored homes, there is plenty to see and do in the picturesque neighborhood just west of the city center. If you find yourself in London, make sure you take some time to explore Notting Hill, and here's a short list of things you can see and do.

First things first: take the central line underground to Notting Hill Gate, grab a pain au chocolate from Paul's, and then start walking north. Stop to take in the gorgeous architecture, take photos of the blooms, and chat with the locals. Walk through the circular streets, and then head toward Portobello Road.

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A Little More Love

Something that's come to the forefront of my attention recently is just how much the world needs to see and experience the love of Jesus.  There are a lot of things happening in the world right now, from controversial politicians to the refugee crisis to gun control issues to the sex trafficking epidemic and so on and so on, and it seems that there is just so much darkness surrounding us, making it easy to understand why people might be feeling a little — or a lot — hopeless.  And hopelessness, in a way, is like a disease.  It infects and spreads and wears people down, bit by bit until they can hardly see the light and goodness that are present in the world.

And living in the time that we do means, I think, that there's just a lot of confusion about who God is.  Is he cruel, judgmental, full of wrath, and if so, is that why the world is so dark and hard and evil?  Or is He loving, kind, and full of grace, because if that's true, where is that on display?  Plenty of people grow up or grew up in some form of the Church, learning about God and about Jesus.  Many "know" the basics, yet have chosen not to believe, and I really think that a choice like that — to not believe — may be two-fold: they see evil in the world, and can't bring themselves to believe in a God who would allow it (or "cause it" — another topic for another day); and/or they don't see God amongst the people who claim Him... which is a very huge and very real problem.

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