It's been a few weeks since i've written a post about our daily life here in Holland, so i figured this morning would be a good time to catch everyone back home up on our life in Europe! Y'all on the East Coast will probably be just waking up when this goes live, so grab your cup of morning coffee (or lavender mint tea...which I happen to be consuming currently) and a blanket (because what the heck Greenville Summer?!) and start the morning slowly.
The past few weeks have been a blur. We've met new friends, attended new churches, learned new customs, become comfortable with different aspects of daily life, found new favorite hang-out spots, and started to acclimate to our new life. In many ways we're still in the vacation part of moving internationally. Life (work, full-time school) hasn't truly begun yet, so we've been able to slowly climb down, inch by inch, into this new pool.
Before I get into the other daily life stuff, i'll give you a few updates on the work front first. As many of you know, we've been struggling to trust that God will provide for us financially (I know, ridiculous right? Especially after the huge ways he just provided for us before we left!). It's been an uphill battle. It's been pretty hard to see how we would be able to pay for our monthly expenses, let alone Kevin's schooling. I've also been struggling with skepticism and apathy towards God (haters, don't hate...) which is another story but definitely influenced my lack of faith in his provision. Without going into a novel's-worth of detail, God has been incredibly gracious and brought job opportunities along even during all my doubting and skepticism. I have an interview for a nannying position in Amsterdam on Monday and am meeting with a local Birth Photographer for general information and help adjusting my business on Thursday. I'm looking forward to seeing how God provides for us these next few months, regardless of the outcome of these meetings!
Back to daily life now.
We are in such a unique place and time of life. We have no children, we have no mortgage, we have no car payments, and we don't have familial obligations because of the distance. We could literally go anywhere or do anything we wanted. It's so easy to forget that. It's so easy to forget what an incredible place God has put us in. I have found that I spend days getting bogged down in the monotony of life, forgetting how lucky we are to be where we are.
So often on Facebook I see these articles containing lists with titles like '20 Things Every 20-Something Needs to Do' or '10 Things to Do Before You Have Kids' or '15 Things Every College Student Needs to Do'. Many of these lists talk about traveling and doing inspiring things. Every time I come across one of these lists, I realize again just how fortunate we are to have access to so many of these coveted "Bucket List" items.
The past week I've been working on remembering. Remembering how fortunate we are. Remembering that we have been called here. Remembering that we are loved and cared for. Remembering what unique activities and opportunities lie literally just beyond our doorstep. Remembering that twisty alleyways and cobblestone streets and hidden markets await discovery. Remembering to explore and be light-hearted.
In an effort to remember, the rest of this post will simply be a list of things we've done the past few weeks. While all of these items will be written in a positive light, I'd ask you to understand that I'm choosing to write positively not because life is always a beautifully organized European Vacation pinterest board, but because in choosing to see life in a positive light I'm helping train myself to see daily activities as things to be thankful for.
1. Became friends with a wonderful family, and many of these items will involve them.
2. Rode bikes to Haarlem, walked through the Saturday Market, bought fresh Stroopwaffles, toured the St. Bavokerk, had a picnic in the town square.
3. Biked beside canals.
4. Ate delicious gelato.
5. Rode through a gorgeous tunnel of trees during Golden Hour (beside a canal, because you're basically always beside one).
6. Had water balloon games in the field.
7. Played at the most awesome park in the world.
8. Discovered the lake.
9. Discovered wild blackberries beside the lake.
10. Spent the evening picking and consuming said wild blackberries.
11. Enjoyed the rainy days that cooled down our apartment from the stuffy heat.
12. Laughed with friends about younger years.
13. Attended an organ concert in St. Bavokerk. The same organ was played by both G.F. Händel and ten-year-old Mozart.
14. Discovered De Boekenmarkt, The Book Market, which sells hundreds of books dating as early as the 1600's.
15. Walked through the Bloemenmarkt and discovered the many colors of tulips.
16. Sat in a 'brown cafe' (named for the brown walls caused by years of pipe tobacco smoke), Cafe de Wetering, which has become our favorite hidden go-to. We sat upstairs next to the huge stone fireplace, reading and writing as Ella Fitzgerald's voice softly floated through the room.
17. Toured a small portion of the Rijksmuseum.
18. Bought Museumkaarts so we could continue returning as often as we liked.
19. Returned and toured another small portion of the Rijksmuseum.
20. Learned how to use our washer and drier properly.
21. Photographed the birth of a new friend's daughter (go check it out here on the website!)
22. Learned how to make dried orange peels.
23. Dried, harvested, and created my own lavender tea.
24. Continued successfully memorizing bus numbers and timetables.
25. Planned(ing) our first trip out of the Netherlands
26. Learned the value of RyanAir
27. Learned the value of wifi
28. Learned that when someone deflates your bike tire and steals the stem (to prevent you from being able to inflate it again), it just means they hate your parking job.
29. Exploring, Exploring, Exploring
30. Learned the value of a homemade Stroopwaffle.
So those are some of the things we've done and learned during the past 4 weeks. There's a lot that I'm sure i've missed, but that should give you the general idea of the goings-on here in our home.
To sum up, we enjoy Holland. We enjoy the history, the newness, and the different culture. We enjoy the different pace of life and becoming more well-rounded people by learning new things. I miss Greenville very much, but I'm so glad to have the opportunity to be in this new place. I've already seen ways that living here has stretched my faith, motivation, self-discipline, ideals, and patterns of thought.
Now that you've probably finished your coffee/tea, I'm going to go get some chores done (remember how I said I finally learned how to operate my washer/drier?). Remember to enjoy the simple pleasures of life today- the smell of coffee, the feel of a cool breeze, the taste of lavender mint tea, the melody of your favorite song. I'll be doing the same. Good morning, East Coast!