Spain and England

I think this post will wrap up the pictures from our trip.  After Africa we had an overnight layover in Madrid, Spain and a girl who was traveling with us has a friend who is studying abroad in Madrid, so we had a personal tour guide!! We saw so many sites inspite of the short amount of time we had.   We ate Tapas (kind of like appetizers) at an outdoor cafe,
 saw a palace,

an Egyptian temple,

a really cool market,


a political protest,


tons of statues and ornate buildings,



and this cute little jewelry store. I loved that everything was painted white!

After Spain we went on to Wolverhampton, England where we had a wonderful time.  Some highlights of our trip were,
hanging out with old friends,
becoming God-parents to our friend’s, Ellis and Holly’s, newest addition, baby Coen, 
eating at Jivan’s (an Indian Balti House and our most favorite restaurant in the whole world!),
shopping at our new friend Harpreet’s mother’s fabric store
and “Junk-tiqueing” with my friend Jess (you don’t think I wouldn’t go all the way across the world and not find a place to feed my addiction!).
Hope you enjoy the pics!

 Here is lady Wulfrun who the city was named after.






This sums up our 3 weeks.  It was definitely a life changing experience and one I will always remember.
Now, I am on to a new season in my life:) Stay posted!

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Some Thoughts, House Plans and More Africa

My sleep patterns are slowly getting back to normal.  I don’t have any obligations right now so my life is really stress free, I kind of feel like I’m back in college.  Ahh I’m  just going to sit and enjoy the moment…. Ok I’m back.  It is so strange because I am so relaxed and at peace yet I hear this little voice in my head saying “get busy, you’re wasting your time.”  And everything in me is resisting the tendancy to get sucked back into busyness. 
 So I’m going to sit just a little longer and ignore that little voice! 

Ok, now onto the house.  If anyone has been in Texas in the summer you would know it is.. how do I say this so I don’t hurt Texas’ feelings…well MISERABLY  hot and humid and did I mention HOT! It is not a pleasant place to be if you are outside during the day.  I do LOVE Texas but pretty much from May to October the only option when you are outside is to submerge yourself in a pool, river or lake.  So with 100 degree weather in the forecast for the next few months we are going to put the outside on hold until the Fall.  That would mean the outside project would take over a year to complete but I think I’m ok with that.  We are thinking about starting the renovations on the office so we can be indoors. I am REALLY excited about working on the office because we have had a vision for it since the first time we saw it and I just can’t wait to see it all come together.  And I can’t wait to share the process with all of you:) 

Sorry if I am kind of jumping all around I feel like I have a lot I need to get out of my head:) I love to decorate with the colors yellow and red.   My eyes are naturally drawn to them. I love the warmth they bring to to a room.  As I looked through  the pictures from my trip I noticed those are the dominat colors in my pictures.  But these next pictures are very different from the others they are cool and refreshing.  Actually, as I took them I felt I was in Greece not Africa! Enjoy the beautiful blues and whites!

Aren’t they just beautiful? I couldn’t believe I was there!! Every turn was an even better photo opp.  Hope you enjoyed them!

Feels Like Home

We are home!! I slept 12 hours last night and have been laying around on the couch all day.  The chorus in Chantal Kreviazuk song Feels Like Home is playing over and over in my head.

It feels like home to me
It feels like home to me
It feels like I’m all the way back where I come from
It feels like home to me
It feels like home to me
It feels like I’m all the way back where I belong

I am resisting the urge to jump back into life and responsibility:)  Over the next few posts I will attempt to capture into words the past 3 weeks. I do know that I am not the same Lauren I was when I left May 31.  I am so in love!!!  So in love with my Creator.  Before we left my head believed God is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do but I couldn’t get that through to my heart.  Now, my heart believes it!!  I just want the whole world to know how wonderful, how faithful, how mysterious, how romantic, how creative… must I go on…he is!  In Africa I learned a new kind of boldness I had never known before.  I was so dependent on God to be my sustainer, and he was faithful! 

While in Africa God showed me how blessed I am through the friends we were traveling with.  Every evening we would return to our apartment and share stories from the day and then we would  finish the night off with a game of Phase 10 or Speed Scrabble.   We laughed so much it hurt!!  Through the trials of the trip I leaned on them for support and they became my close family, I am so grateful for them. 

I have so many pictures I want to share so I will divide them into a few posts.   While in  Africa we visited Fes, one of the oldest living Medinas (old city), in the world.  It covers 7 miles and has over 6,000 streets!  We would have been lost for days if we wouldn’t have hired a tour guide!  Hope these pictures capture how beautiful it was! Enjoy!

 

Foreigners

Ahh it has been a while since I have sat down in front of a computer.  I just wanted to check in and let everyone know we are alive and safe.  The past two weeks have been incredible!!  I have learned so much that I am still trying to wrap my mind around. I have experienced so many different cultures in a very short time and have had to find my security not in my surroundings but in my identity as a child of God. The first few days I longed for home and the security of my relationships but God was so faithful to be the home I needed.  My attention was turned to Hebrews 11 where it talks about being foreigners on the earth and that this world isn’t even our home. After reading this I felt a freedom that I had never known. I was able to completely let go of everything familiar and feel complete peace. Currently we are in Wolverhampton, England and  I have some amazing pictures that I will upload once we are back in the states next week.  So until then take care and thank you for all your prayers! With love, Lauren.

Right Where It All Began

With our trip just a few days around the corner I have been thinking about the beginning of mine and Joel’s story.  By the time you read this we will have already left and since we will be back where it all began I feel it is necessary to tell the story.  It is a true fairytale!

The story begins with a girl and a dream to see Africa.

 In the Fall of 2003, God took hold of my life and shook my soul out of a deep sleep.  He began to birth in me a love for the nations.  In the Spring of 2004, God opened my eyes to new possibilities by giving me the opportunity to travel with friends to Siaya, Kenya for 2 weeks.

 That Spring was also when I met Joel for the first time.  He was back for a visit from Wolverhampton, England, where he was living and attending university.  I had heard so many good things about Joel, about how at 19 he moved overseas and I longed for a husband like that.   Then that summer, while on our way back from Africa, I along with 2 other girls stopped off in England to visit. That is where Joel and I hung out for the first time. He was so shy and hardly said anything to me. I wanted him to like me but I thought it would never happen because he wouldn’t say one word!  The night before us girls left we hung out one more time. This time it felt like we were finishing each other’s sentences!! We talked about our desire to see and be a part  God’s kingdom spread across the world.

Once I arrived back in Texas I emailed our friends in Wolverhampton thanking them for their hospitality, hoping  Joel would email back and he did!!!  This began a 10 month long distance relationship. This was back before Facebook so we emailed, instant messaged and Skyped.  We learned everything about each other!  I saved every one of his emails and it is now bound into a book, it is one of my most precious possessions.  In November 2004, we bought a plane ticket for me to go visit and bring in the New Year with him in England.  I can remember during this season of my life asking myself, “is this really happening to me?!?”  My 5 days with him were wonderful:)  He was full of surprises and chivalry.

Our first date was a day trip to London!

I was definitely in love.   After New Years our relationship progressed quickly and marriage was in the forecast so we knew moving back was the next step for him.  Joel moved back in July of 2005 and we were engaged October 1.

Then gears shifted quickly as we planned our wedding that was set for March 4, 2006.  We had a very limited budget for our wedding so the women of our church rallied around us and helped us pull off the big event. It was the most amazing day of my life!!!

We had over 300 guests, a live band and wonderful weather.

In the weeks that followed I played the events from the day over and over in my head, not wanting to forget.

A year passed and we found ourselves spending our first anniversary in Uganda, Africa.

It was such an amazing experience to travel internationally with the love of  my life. I loved the feel of getting on a plane and leaving everything familiar behind. I felt like a pioneer woman exploring uncharted territory with her man. I completely trusted him to lead me.  At that point we knew one day we would leave home to live abroad, it is in our blood, it is one of the dreams that binds us together.
Over the next 4 years we traveled to many different countries.

Now here we are, 7 years after our first meeting, heading back to Africa and England, right where it all began.  I felt an overwhelming sense of peace as I wrote that last sentence.  I feel like I’m going home.  I am so excited for this new adventure and can’t wait to add it to our story!  After writing this all I can say is God is good!!!  I don’t know how people can doubt that but I know he is because my life screams it.