The Big Move

It seems only fitting that my first blog post in how many months(?) too many, should be about my big move to Winchester.

God has been so faithful in my life. That is the most important thing I say before I say anything else. God is faithful. He picked me up when I least expected it + rooted me in this unfamiliar place that I am learning to call home. He has blessed me with a place to live, a job to provide + friends to love and encourage me. I would not be sitting at this desk in this tiny town of mine without God’s immeasurable grace. It’s incredible, mind-blowing + beautiful.

There were a lot of factors that led to my decision to leave the DC area. There was a heartbreak + a lot of learning, unforeseen opportunities, this whole idea of “growing up” + “being an adult” (hah!) + plenty of courage. But it has been by far one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life thus far. I firmly believe that the most wonderful things in life are equally beautiful + terrifying. If you always stay where you are comfortable, how can you learn new things? So I chose to follow Jesus and throw myself into the unknown + haven’t for one moment regretted that choice.

The Lord provided me with a job before I even moved. I’m still a barista, but this time at a quaint, health-centered cafe called Steamy’s. I feel so at home there, my coworkers are fantastic people and brilliant friends. I’m blessed enough to work alongside my Monster + best friend, Sheila. Sheila + her husband Arel have been the superheroes of my life the past few weeks. They’ve graciously welcomed me into their home, along with their beautiful, wide-eyed husky, Pippa + a total of now four kittens awaiting their new homes. I am eternally grateful for the love + hospitality they’ve shown me, as well as the late-night drives to the airport, film projects, kitten rescues, xbox nights + endless laughter.

This place is a new chapter of the brilliant life God has given me + I refuse to squander it. I had my own idea of what I wanted my life to be, but God has a different idea. He has called me higher. He has bigger plans for me than I could ever have for myself. I am learning again how to trust my Father, to live authentically, to allow myself to let go + grow + how to love + be loved in return.

 

The Earth Is Ours

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Image property of GretchenGretchen.com; text edition my own.

The other day, while my darling boyfriend and I were reading Genesis together, God brought out something from His Word that I had never quite picked up before. It’s amazing how He does that. Even in Genesis 1, a chapter in the Bible every Christian has read 1000+ times, God continuously new things to us.

The title of this post may worry some of you. “What kind of theology is that!?” “The earth belongs to God!” All of this is true, of course. I have absolutely no intention of claiming the ownership of planet earth on behalf of the human race, but hear me out.

Genesis 1 reads, “And God said to them [mankind], “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.”

Take a moment to reflect on all God has given us–it’s astounding! We have the privilege of being able to enjoy God’s perfect creation. How blessed we are! And not only to enjoy it, but to partake in it. To use this world’s resources and beauties to further His Kingdom, to mold it and shape it for His glory. God even so generously allows us to use all He has created for our own self; to eat, build, heal, create and enjoy–for His glory as the ultimate end.

This concept lead me to a realization that changed the way I want to lead my life. Everything that you and I need, to live, be happy and fruitful is already on this earth for us. God has already given us on those first 6 days on creation all that we could possibly need.

I think recently, as I’ve been studying herbalism, that truth has become even more apparent to me. There is a natural remedy for everything! Headaches, insomnia, heart disease, etc., you name it–there is some kind of natural occurring remedy for it. Nature’s medicine, created by God.

Not only were these herbs and remedies already created by God for us, but they are so much healthier for our bodies than over-the-counter medications. Now, let me state that I am no expert. I have only just begun my studies in the fascinating world of herbalism, I am no physician or anything close to one, just a girl trying to live her life as simply and naturally as possible–and one who likes to blog about all she’s learning with the hope of benefiting others in some way, shape, or form, by the grace and will of God.

And so it is for these reasons that I find this wonderful gift from God to be particularly extraordinary. I’m not saying all man-made things are horrible and unhealthy, I myself am particularly fond of electricity and central heating, and I believe God has given us an amazing gift in our ability to take what He has made for us and mold it into something new. What I am saying is that I believe it is the simple, natural things in life that can satisfy us in ways that nothing else can, and I find immense beauty in that.

Now go out and eat some veggies!

Thoughts Over Hot Apple Cider

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‘Evening folks! So, I was sitting here drinking my delicious homemade hot apple cider chai and watching ‘The Christmas Invasion’ episode of Doctor Who, when some thoughts came to me that I just had to share with you all tonight!

I do believe I’m on day 5(?) of being a full-time vegan. Crazy! I feel so good, and it’s been surprisingly easy thus far! Much easier than the last time I attempted vegan-ism a few months back. It’s amazing what I can accomplish when I really put my all into something, which is definitely a thing I should do more often.

I think that’s one of my (and a whole lot of other people’s) biggest problem: I don’t show up. My gang of artist friends and I went up to Pennsylvania last weekend to have this big meet up, at which we watched a TED talk featuring Elizabeth Gilbert, author of bestselling novel Eat, Pray, Love. One of the main points she made was that there is far too much focus on the individual when it comes to creating, or, in my opinion, doing anything. When we seem to be unable to ‘create’ or ‘do’ anything, we place all the blame on ourselves and fall into the trap of self-loathing and apathy, which in my case tends to lead to the ceasing of all creating and doing.

Gilbert says this shouldn’t be the case.

She believes that our creative Genius is something that exists outside of ourselves, and being a Christ-following lady m’self, I believe that Genius to be God. It’s God that places that creative energy, that fire to create, the passion to do something–anything at all! Gilbert says the one thing we have to do is keep showing up. Even when it seems like our passion and creativity and spark didn’t show up today, we still have to.

I think that’s one of the things that makes humans so spectacular. We keep trying. We’re a pretty darn ‘trying’ race if I do say so myself. But some of us struggle with that from time to time, I know I do (especially lately), but I have hope. I have faith that God is doing marvelous work in me even when I’m not carrying out that work in a real, physical way.

And so that is what I–and what I am encouraging all of you reading this–to do. To try. To do. To create. To show up. It’s the only thing that’s going to get us out of this ‘funk’ we sometimes find ourselves in, the only thing that’s going to give us a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Sitting on the couch all day catching up on The Walking Dead is enjoyable, but it isn’t going to give us the real satisfaction we’re craving as human beings. We were created to work, and to work for God’s ultimate purpose and glory!

Local Bookshop Is ‘Bigger On The Inside’

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Doctor Who fans–you know what I’m talking about. I didn’t think it was humanly possible to cram so many books into such a tiny house until I started shopping at Hole in the Wall Books in Falls Church, Virginia.

Hole in the Wall offers pretty much every genre you could think up; classic literature, mysteries, horror, biographies, sci-fi, fantasy, language books (even a few Russian novels I’ll sometimes pick up for my best friend!), non-fiction, cookbooks, and so much more! They also specialize in their wide-assortment of comic books and nerd paraphernalia (which I for one massively appreciate!)

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The owner, Edy, is one of the most delightfully quirky women I have had the pleasure of talking with. Every time I’ve visited Hole in the Wall, she’s treated my boyfriend and I like family. She seems to have read every book ever written, and is a huge nerd–all the best people in this world are, if I’m being honest. (Anyway), she is always most helpful, and runs an excellent shop.

Aside from books and comics, Hole in the Wall also features a fairly substantial vinyl record collection. (I myself walked away with a wicked Tom Petty vinyl on my last visit!)

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Hole in the Wall Books is the perfect place for any used-book and thrift shop go-er, especially those of use who don’t want to pay $24.99 for a decent hardback!

The next time you’re in Falls Church, definitely stop by Hole in the Wall Books, my absolute favorite used bookshop I’ve been to thus far–you won’t regret it!

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Arlington Tea House Is Blooming!

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This afternoon, I had the pleasure of visiting Arlington’s own House of Steep. While browsing through a variety of tea shops in the DC Metro area, something about the House of Steep drew me in. Upon arriving there, I immediately knew what that ‘something’ was.

From the sensational decor, friendly and upbeat staff, tranquil atmosphere, and absolutely delectable tea, House of Steep’s 4 1/2 star Yelp rating is no surprise.

The decor is bright, modern, and cozy. The perfect inviting atmosphere for those of us who need to get away (and love drinking delicious tea!) Quaint tables and chairs provide an adorable and comfortable experience, and their walls feature work from local artists.

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My dear man and I enjoyed a lovely pot of Chai Oolong, which the woman at the counter highly recommended, and it was exceptional. The tranquil music in the background combined with the pipping hot tea provided the perfect ambiance for a relaxing and highly enjoyable afternoon.

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Not only does House of Steep provide a wide assortment of delectable teas, but they also have a foot sanctuary to provide the ultimate therapeutic experience possible. I personally did not partake in the foot sanctuary, but I have plans to return for such a luxury! They have an entire menu of soaks/massages available based on your individual needs–some relieve stress, help with insomnia, allergy relief, etc. to name a few.

The bottom line–check this place out! If you’re a tea enthusiast, like I am, or simply looking for a quick, relaxing get away, then House of Steep should definitely be bumped up to #1 on your list. I know it’s now #1 on mine!

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e.l.f. (Eyes Lips Face) cruelty-free cosmetics

Attention ladies! Did you know that most major cosmetic companies today test their products on animals?

I’ve bet you’ve never thought about it, or if you have, simply ignored it. Companies such as Revlon, Maybeline, CoverGirl, Loreal, etc. all test their products on animals, or are associate with a third party that does. As I’m sure you know, many of our products here in the United States are manufactured and sold in China, where animal testing is required by law. While it is not required by law in the United States, many companies still test their products on animals, even though now there are many ways of testing them cruelty-free.

Fortunately, for us girls out there who want to look fabulous and abstain from cruelty-free cosmetics—there is a solution!

e.l.f. (Eyes Lips Face) cosmetics is an up and coming cosmetic company on the market today that is completely cruelty-free! Most of e.l.f.’s products are vegan as well, only using beeswax and natural-cut horse hair in some of their products and brushes (synthetic brushes available as well). Here is a complete list of e.l.f.’s vegan-friendly products.

Cosmetics from e.l.f. are affordable as well—probably significantly more affordable than the products you’re using now, many of their products listed at $1 a pop! And they’re quality! e.l.f. is all about giving women quality cosmetics that don’t cost obscene amounts of money. e.l.f.’s products also do not contain any parabens (a chemical preservative associate with breast cancer), other preservatives, or chemical dyes.

Quality cruelty-free cosmetics at a more than reasonable price? Why use anything else! Join me in switching to e.l.f. cosmetics, and take action to stop animal testing in the United States!

Sources:
http://rswack.blogspot.com/2013/06/is-elf-eyes-lips-face-cruelty-free.html?m=1
http://m.humanesociety.org/issues/cosmetic_testing/#.UqDH63i9LCQ
http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=291