a look inside the life of Whitney

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Hot Chocolate & Jesus

A friend once gave me a kitchen towel with this quote:

All I need is a little bit of hot chocolate and a WHOLE LOT of JESUS

I’ve been through a lot of changes lately and I find myself craving more time with God and a really good cup of hot chocolate.

So today I share a recipe for the BEST homemade hot chocolate that this same friend swears by. I’ll be trying it this Fall for sure.

Best Hot Cocoa

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14 Days Later: Back to “Normal”

It’s been two weeks already. Two weeks! How did that happen? I meant to post sooner; I’ve been wanting to share some reflections now that I have returned home, but it took a while to get back to a normal schedule.

I was really excited to be home for one singular reason–my boyfriend.  My spirits were high and my eagerness barely under control thanks to my anticipation of being in his arms again. And once I was finally there, it was like releasing a breath that I had been holding way too long. Relaxed and relieved.

IMG_3787He gave me a wonderful surprise when he took me home. I don’t know if I mentioned this, but on the evening of the day I left for Romanian, my absolute favorite author and his co-author were IN TOWN doing a book signing. When I found out, I was devastated that I was going to miss that by just a few hours! Naturally, I told him about it, so that night after he dropped me off at the airport, he went and got a book signed for me and even got a picture with them! I never knew until I saw the book hiding under a pillow on my bed when I got back. I squealed and nearly knocked him over with a hug when I saw it :). It meant so much to me that he did that! And he continued to be Mr. Wonderful during the first half of the week as I dealt with the lasting effects of jet-lag. It was really rough. I was tired nearly all the time, would wake up on and off all night, and had a horrible time trying to eat normally. Going back to work was hard too and I am thankful that it wasn’t super busy that week because I was a zombie. I drank a lot of coffee. But those days are mostly a blur now. It wasn’t until the second half of the week that I started feeling normal again, and by that time, my poor guy caught a nasty cold. Our assignments suddenly switched and I spent the rest of the week helping him get better quickly. So that first week was difficult and certainly abnormal but we got to spend a lot of time together and that was all that mattered to me.

As surprising as this is, once I got over jet-lag, I experienced a little bit of culture shock again as I re-adjusted to American life. I had to re-learn what was normal. It was not as profound as the moments of culture shock I experienced in Romanian. I just realized that while everything was the same, everything felt different. It wasn’t hard to figure out that I had changed, that I had gained new perspectives.  At first it was just a series of emotions that I didn’t understand. I felt a sadness and disappointment for the abundance that people live with here, and yet always want more. I felt a new appreciation, and embarrassment for how much I have, and of that, how little I really need. I felt humbled by the hospitality I was shown there that is greater than the “southern hospitality” version here. And at the base of it all, I wondered if we have grown so used to our freedoms here that we don’t even appreciate them anymore, or fight for them like we used to.

So yes, this trip changed me, like I knew it would. And the one thing that this trip affirmed for me most is that I do not want a typical American life. I don’t want to just work, just have a family, just go to church, just live in a house, and just barely have any kind of real relationship with God, wondering whether I’m really His. I want a life that is fully His to use, no matter where that takes me. I hope it means traveling the world, because I definitely want that. But more importantly, I want to live the life that God promised, a life in full (John 10:10). I want to go out and experience the world, I want to be used by His hand and see the power and purpose He brings about in this world. Because that life is the one worth living. The one that says, even if I had nothing else, I  still have Jesus, and that is enough, more than enough!

It’s a mindset that I have been working towards, slowed by my own doubts and fears, but reaffirmed from time to time, and especially now after I have returned. And I hope it is what will also keep this blog going, because writing it my outlet. It is the way I come to understand myself, God, and the world around me best, and equally share that understanding with others. And the life I hope to lead for God will certainly be worth sharing!

Thank you all for following me throughout this journey. The mission trip is over, but this is only the beginning. Thank you for your prayers and love!

Have a wonderful weekend!


So Much for Consistency…

…But there will be improvement 🙂

I’m still working on being consistent given that I haven’t posted in the past two days. I also missed my 30-minute walk yesterday so yeah, definitely going to try and get back into the swing of things.

Which is proving difficult today since I can’t seem to shake off this tiredness. I woke up tired, have been tired all day, and even had an extra cup of coffee before the end of the workday to keep me going until bedtime, which will probably be at like 9pm tonight the way things are going.

So anyways, I have made some headway on the study material for the trip. It’s been fun to go over all the stories from the Old Testament that I haven’t heard in ages and remind me of Sunday school days. The material is an abbreviated version of the entire Bible, hitting the most important events and showing how the entirety of the Bible points to Jesus and his sacrifice that saved us. And as I read through this, my mind automatically thinks of all the events in between, all the details that I’ve retained over the years. And somehow I’ll have to rein those in and focus on what’s important and what the students take away from each lesson.

Because that’s really what this trip is about. Yes, we are there to help them improve their English. But more importantly we are there to have a conversation about Jesus Christ with them, to answer questions and build relationships that will hopefully bring them closer to knowing who God is and how He wants to have a loving relationship with them. It will challenge me, as much as them, because I will be sharing my own faith and experiences with them. It makes me a little nervous, but I know God has been preparing me for this. And I’m praying every day that He continues to prepare my heart for it.

So, 17 days to go now. I had an “oh wow” moment last night when I thought about that. It was a moment that took my breath away for a second. But hey, it’s plenty of time really. This week I’m focusing on getting through all the teaching material and shopping for the items I need for the trip. And next week will be lots of prayers, a practice round or two of packing, and more prayer.

Please continue to pray for me! I am getting more and more excited and continue to count down the days!

Thanks for reading!

PS. Wrote the above at around 5pm. I’d like to add now that I got my 30 min walk it and while the tiredness is slowly returning, it definitely helped me have the energy to get some things done this evening.

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Free Food

I am ashamed that I have not been more motivated to share what I have been learning lately and what God has been showing me. I’ve been so challenged by all that I’ve been learning, that I’ve sometimes become resistant and lazy, not wanting to change my attitude or lifestyle because it’s a lot of work and goes against the selfish desires I tend to have. After all, it’s easy to just live day-to-day, to do what is necessary and nothing beyond that. Sleep, eat, work, eat, relax, and sleep again. So finally I’m making an effort to get caught up.

Back in March I started reading a book called Not a Fan. After going through the Experiencing God study book with my boyfriend, its been a great follow up and challenge to what being a true Christian, a true follower of Christ should really look like.

The first thing I wrote down from this study was about the miracle Jesus performed of feeding the five thousand. For those of you who don’t know, Jesus took a boy’s lunch and miraculously fed over 5 thousand people with it, and still had leftovers.

And while that miracle was amazing, the study focused more on what happened after that, specifically as it is described in John 6. Take the time to read it if you can, but here’s a summed up version:

  1. Jesus feeds the five thousand
  2. Jesus and his disciples leave. The crowd later follows
  3. Most of the crowd followed because they wanted more free food
  4. Jesus instead tells them to pursue the bread of life, which does not spoil or leave you hungry.
  5. Jesus explains He is the Bread of Life
  6. The Pharisees don’t understand and many disciples choose to no longer follow Jesus.

When Jesus teaches the people about how he is the Bread of Life, he describes that this is the only way to eternal life, and unless one “eats [his] flesh and drinks [his] blood,” they will not receive eternal life or have any part in it (Jn. 6:53-54). But Jesus didn’t mean to actually eat his flesh and blood like a cannibal. He said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” Jesus wasn’t being literal.

So what did he mean? Not A Fan focuses on the difference between a fan of Jesus and follower of Jesus. In this example from the Bible, the fan is the one who’s there for the free food. A fan is only a fan when it suits them, when it benefits them. We “like” and “follow” our favorite stores and brands so we can get the latest news, the newest products or the best coupons. We go to church every time the doors are open to make friends, learn how to feel good about ourselves, and portray a good reputation (I am guilty of this).

But when Jesus says to eat and drink of him, he means to share in the dirty work, in the sacrifice. That’s why so many disciples left him that day. They realized there wasn’t going to be any more free stuff without a cost. That truly following Him and having eternal life will require a sacrifice on their part; it would require effort. A fan only sticks around when things are good and when it’s convenient. A follower follows, no matter what, no matter where, no matter when.

A follower knows that salvation doesn’t stop at confession. It doesn’t stop at belief in God, His Son, and His Spirit. It doesn’t stop at baptism. That’s where it all begins. That’s the moment you step into eternal life. And every day after, you choose to stand behind Jesus, cross on your back, and follow him no matter what (Luke 9:23).

That’s what a follower does. And that’s what I fail to do most of the time. True story. And Jesus promises both reward and sacrifice. You can’t have eternal life without “eating [his] and drinking [his] blood,” without sharing in the grunt work. But the reward is eternal life and a relationship with Him that is more loving, more forgiving, and more fulfilling than anything else you can experience on this earth! It’s worth it!

Everything worth having comes at a cost. So if you consider yourself a follower of Christ, what has it cost you?