Fiction, Nonfiction, Travel Adventures

10 Books I Want to Read After Visiting D.C.

I thought I’d have a different kind of travel “recap” with my recent adventures to D.C. I’ve been a couple times before, but there’s so much to see that I could visit 10 more times and still have a list! We were able to see the monuments (including the new MLK Jr. memorial), visit Mt. Vernon (home to George Washington), The Holocaust Memorial Museum, The National Museum of African American History and Culture and The National Gallery of Art. I love these type of cities. With such a historical city full of museums and bookstores, I managed to add 54837543957430 more books to my reading list (naturally), so I thought I’d share some with y’all!

1.  My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King

2. The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson

3. Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

4. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

5. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’ve had this book for years and only read bits. He saw early on how the German “church” supported Hitler and gave up everything (including his life) to fight against it. After visiting the Holocaust museum, I really need to finish it.

6. Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith

7. Monet, or the Triumph of Impressionism by Daniel Wildenstein

8. Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell

9. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

10. Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol 1, 1884-1933 by Blanche Wiesen Cook (there’s three volumes total)

And because you can always add more to the pile, here’s a list of books and movies I’ve read/seen that are worth your time.

I’ll end with a few pics from the trip!

The crew

Another must see – the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The Lincoln Memorial is beautiful, especially at night!
A girl can’t resist going to local book stores!
I’ve mentioned before how much I love art, especially Impressionism, so I LOVED getting to see Van Gogh’s self-portrait.
And Monet!!
I’ll close with this one – I didn’t know that there was a second edition of the Shaw Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (a memorial to the Massachusetts 54th in the Civil War), but there is! The original is outside The Boston Commons.

What books have you picked up after a trip?

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Changing the World, Travel Adventures

Under Our Skin Forum | A Recap

Last week I was in Tampa, FL (who quickly reminded me that I’m cool without humidity) for the Under Our Skin Forum. Based off of Benjamin Watson’s book of the same name and put on by Tyndale (excellent job friends!), it was a night with big names, but all together for a bigger purpose. As you can imagine, it’s a hard topic, but everyone shared openly and honestly and what an encouraging night.

I left the night filled with hope. These past weeks (months really) have grieved my soul, but while it won’t be an easy road and battle, our hope is in Jesus and His power to change lives. And that gives me hope. To keep fighting for justice and to keep shinning light in the darkness.

The Church, this is our time. We can make an impact on culture and show the way unity looks. We don’t have to pick sides and corners, as Benjamin pointed out, we can be in the middle. We can live in the tension of both sides. Things don’t have to be either/or in what grieves us, what we support, etc. We can support things on each side. More importantly, it needs to be that way.

There were so many excellent points, wisdom and thoughts shared. I’m thankful for Twitter, so I could stalk what other people posted since I didn’t take notes. Here’s a few quotes:

“In so many ways it seems like the American Church has slowly white-washed the Gospel. Case in point, you’d be hard-pressed to find a nativity scene around Christmas where Mary isn’t a Caucasian woman with silky brown hair. There are going to be an incredible number of Jesus-worshipping, faith-filled individuals who are going to be SHOCKED when they step into the Kingdom of Heaven and realize the man seated at the right hand of God the Father is a homeless middle eastern refugee. The one we worship is a man of color. The Gospel is a rich narrative of color, race, social class, ages, and demographics invited into the same story and redeemed fully at the same cross. Our commissioning is to bring Heaven to Earth in our time here, and we can’t effectively do that if we don’t understand that Heaven is a deeply colorful, language-saturated, diverse and beautiful place where we all stand before the same King as equal creatures made in His image and unified in His grace.” Mo Isom

“If one member suffers, every single members suffers…we see our country right now, we see the pain going on, whether that’s particular demographic, a particular place. If you wake up with a splitting headache or if you’ve ever slammed your finger in a door, the first thing your body does, your physical body, is it rallies to that point of pain. It doesn’t pontificate, it doesn’t rationalize, it doesn’t say, I’m waiting for more facts. It simply says, I’m going to respond. When we weep with those who weep, I think that’s a sign of a highly functioning body. We’re spending too much time rationalizing. It’s Jesus weeping at the tomb.” Ben Sciacca

“Lord help me chose the harder right, not the easier wrong.” West Point Cadet Prayer

“The game plan for racism is in Bible- James 2:14. We need to break the huddle and run the play.” James Brown

“Just do what the Lord says to do, it’s simple, but it’s not always easy.” Tony Dungy

“Christ in you can destroy both the myth of superiority & the myth of inferiority.” Benjamin Watson

There’s so much more and the video is available to watch, if you want to find out more. Just go here.

Also, here’s a list of the panel, if you want to follow them.
Benjamin Watson
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
James Brown
Website | Facebook | Twitter
J. Kevin Butcher
WebsiteTwitter
Tony Dungy
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Charlie Strong
Warrick Dunn
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Mo Isom
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Ben Sciacca
Website | Twitter
Danny Wuerffel
Website | Twitter | Instagram
Sage Steele (Moderator)
Twitter | Instagram

Coach!

With Benjamin Watson (and yes, I’m still sad he doesn’t play for the Saints)
If y’all don’t know Mo Isom, change that quickly!
Unity is possible internet! Warrick Dunn played for the Falcons (and Bucs) and is part owner of the Falcons. Did I mention my loyalties lie with the Saints? OF COURSE I DID. 🙂
Travel Adventures

Places I Love | The Oxford Exchange – Tampa, Florida

Whenever I travel, I try and squeeze in a visit to a recommended and local book shop or tea shop. It’s so fun to see what cities offer. Thanks to Twitter and Amelia Rhodes, I checked out Oxford Exchange.

Well, Internet, I have absolutely fallen in love with this place. Oh my word…I need one in Colorado! I didn’t get a chance to try the food (although it looked so tasty), but everything about the place is perfection. Teas (all the teas!!), coffee, pastries, a cafe, books to buy, this place has it all. It’s the place you can visit with friends, for business meetings or a place to work on anything you need. I’m obsessed. So if anyone wants to invest some cash, I can point you to the perfect area in Colorado Springs.

I bought Summer Melon, TeBella Breakfast Blend (can’t not get my English Breakfast), Georgia Peach (I tried this one there and delicious – not too sweet!) and Tropical Breeze.

So yes, if you find yourself in Tampa, don’t pass this place up! Find out more:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

I need this.

They have the best cards ever.
These teas called to me.
Any guesses which portraits I’d include?

I didn’t the full course, but they have afternoon tea people. AFTERNOON TEA.

Travel Adventures

Adventures in Mexico and Cali | Spring 2016

These past couple of months, I had the chance to do some traveling and if y’all have been around here for just a bit, you’ll know I pretty much live for the days of getting on a plane and going somewhere adventurous. I didn’t take as many photos as I normally do, but I did snag a few, so today is dedicated to adventure!

My first was a trip with my company, on the President’s Club, and this year was a cruise to Yucatán and Cozumel. It was also my first cruise and wasn’t a bad experience. When we got to the beaches though, I wish I could have stayed! Put me on a beautiful beach and I’m done for days!

The first stop, my friend and I decided to do the excursion to Chichen Itza. It was so worth the drive and heat.

This is the main event of these ruins, El Castillo. You can no longer climb the stairs, but it’s still really impressive.
Since I have the best memory, I forgot a few of the details about this water hole, but I do remember them saying the Mayans did some human sacrifices here. They were big on that, as we also saw the stones where they practiced this at as well.
Eagles and Jaguars were everywhere in the stones. They played a big role in their sacrifices and beliefs. (Warning, maybe don’t continue with this caption if you aren’t a fan of kinda gross facts: they would sacrifice someone and then leave the heart in a specific spot for Jaguars to come and eat. #NoThanks)
I call this “Sweaty Hot Mess in Front of Pyramid.” Bring lots and lots of water if you go. Unless you like your fingers tripling in size, then no need.
Because this was a pretty mural and helpful map!
This might sound dorky, but I love getting to eat the snacks in different countries. If we have the same snack in America, I like seeing how they might taste different. Of course I love trying new snacks too. Plus the packaging not being in English makes me smile.
Why couldn’t I stay forever? Whyyyyyyy???
This picture is terribly crafted ; ), but here’s a view when we were leaving Cozumel. Zero filters added… just look at that water!!
The sunsets at sea were pretty amazing as well – this was the view from my balcony.

Next stop was California to visit the family because it was time to meet my nephew!!! It worked out perfect because it was Mother’s Day Weekend and my brother’s birthday and I love being there for fun celebrations.

Here’s our first photo together. Clearly his expression says “I love you Auntie!”

For my Mama!

Just because, here’s my sister and I. We did a face swap on Snapchat and were cracking up because there wasn’t much difference.
Snapchat antics with B.
Dancing with Gabs

Have I mentioned how much I love being Auntie to these three?

We’ll be back to our regular bookish programing tomorrow, but I couldn’t resist sharing pictures :). Any fun travels for y’all coming up?

Oh and I almost forgot this guy. Is anyone on Snapchat? I kinda love it. People are funny and I love seeing what people Snap. Plus the filters are awesome and hilarious. If you’re on it, I’m jamielynne1982. I had to have my cousin show me the ropes, but once I got the hang of it, I’m hooked! This is a collection of my flight shenanigans snaps when I was trying to get to Cali….delayed flights can be fun ;).

Travel Adventures

Why Travel? Here’s 7 Reasons

“Traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

I’m not sure who first said that, but to that I say YES AND AMEN.

I remember the exact moment in life I decided I would see the world. It was 1991 and I was 9. My parents decided to take us to Walt Disney World Florida (and also exciting Edgard, Louisiana). I may have shared bits of this story before, so forgive me for any repeats.

We all went to Epcot Center on one of the days and after “visiting” the first country, I was 900% hooked. You see, Epcot Center has several international pavilions and each had people from those countries working there. My parents bought me a passport and I got to go around to each place, look at the architecture, see the cute trinkets and talk to people from around the world.

I was deeply and madly in love.

I think it was after 2-3 stops my parents realized there was no stopping my mission to visit every country. So we split up, my Mom took my siblings and cousin on rides and my Dad took me to each country. Rides? What rides Dad?! I gotta see the world!

I still have it!

So began my lifelong love of traveling both near and far (I talked about the lovely Ireland here). Here’s the thing with the travel bug; once you start you will never want to stop and I think that’s amazing.

On a recent trip to Colorado (I 100% blame recent travels for neglect of this blog, but hey, it provided some new inspiration!) I was thinking about why I love traveling and thought it was the perfect time to convince the Internet to travel as much as possible!

This post is unsponsored, but if an airline company sees it and likes it, feel free to pass along a free flight or two. I shall graciously expect :).

1. The world is no longer a face without a name. I think one of the reasons I have such a passion for social justice and change is because I’ve been to many of these places and have seen the beautiful faces behind all of the stats. It’s amazing how much our perceptions and thoughts change towards fellow man when we have to opportunity to spend time with them. I’m not saying you have to spend days, sometimes it is just a few passing moments.

2. It is fun! I can go on for days about this one. I don’t have a study to quote, but I’m pretty sure there is a scientific evidence out there proving that you burn more calories due to laughing and adventuring. Whether with family or friends, fun is waiting. Right now I’m laughing while typing this thinking of hilarious times.

Visiting a school is Zambia – loved these kids!

3. You get to challenge yourself and stretch yourself. This might sound crazy, but not everyone lives like we do in the United States of America. Wha??? I know right? Who would have thought…

4. The food. I admit, I don’t eat anything and everything. Vanilla is and always will be my favorite ice cream. But that doesn’t mean I won’t try things at least once (I draw the line at bugs internet). There is some amazing food out there in the world just waiting to be eaten. Now I’m thinking of all the foods I’m craving that are far, far away from me. Curses.

San Fran with my sister and close friends = we all still crave the crepes.

5. Culture changes you as a person (and for the better). Trust me on this.

6. Cheeseball alert…the memories!! A significant majority of my favorite all times memories have been while I am traveling – whether a short road trip or somewhere international, the memories truly do last forever. Like I said, cheeseball to the core. ; )

When your friend turns 30, you go on a trip!

7. Beauty. One thing that reminds me of God’s creativity and majesty is traveling. Whether a beach, the mountains or people’s compassion and kindness, seeing the world has always drawn me closer to Jesus in ways I’ll never forget.

It’s probably because I’m itching to plan my next trip, but I hope y’all are inspired to pack up a car full of friends or maybe hop on a plane and go somewhere fun. If you aren’t sure where to start, I hear Austin has some cool people and pretty amazing food.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Why do you love to travel? Where would you love to go if money wasn’t an issue?

Travel Adventures

Adventures in Breckenridge, CO | Fall 2015

After years of only ever seeing Colorado through the terminals of Denver International Airport, I finally was able to explore more of the state with a recent girlfriends’ weekend. To say I loved it would be extremely accurate. Seeing it in Fall? Nearly missed my flight on purpose!

It was incredibly relaxing and refreshing and I’m so thankful to have friends who love adventure as much as I do! The one bummer is I didn’t get to see the husky puppies – apparently it was off season. Just means I’ll have to go back! Here’s a few shots to convince you to visit as well.

Watch out for these hikers…

I can’t say I was as photo happy in Denver, so below is all I got for evidence :). Denver has a big brewing culture like the ATX and so we checked out the Great Divide Brewing Co. This was the Denver Pale Ale and reminded me of some of the pale ales from around Austin. Tasty brew!

Where’s your favorite place to be in Fall?

Travel Adventures

14 Years Later and I Still Love Ireland (+ 5 Things I Still Hold Onto)

Happy St. Paddy’s Day friends! I admit I don’t really celebrate and never remember to wear green, but do I love Ireland! It’s hard to believe it’s been 14 years since I’ve been to Ireland. It doesn’t seem that long ago, but then I look at pictures (ahem..my fashion) and I realize that yes indeed it was a long time ago. It was an amazing trip for so many reasons. It was my first “real” international trip (I don’t really count the days trips to Mexico or the missions trip during my senior year in high school) and opened my eyes to so many things. From the beautiful experience of a different culture to the spiritual, I was reminiscing recently (blame St. Paddy), so I couldn’t help but post about it today!

I found my photo album from the trip (this was before I had a camera of my own) and all I used was disposable cameras (which is reason enough for me to go back and take real pictures). The quality y’all. Yikes. Even with the terrible quality, such memories in each photo! Now onto the 5 things I still hold on to from that trip.

I’ll just say I wasn’t the only American who screamed from excitement when we got stuck in a sheep jam. It was so much fun to be “stuck” in a sheep jam while in Ireland.
Entertainment by the Cliffs of Moher

1. People may worship differently, but that doesn’t change the fact we’re all on the same team. I went to Ireland on a short term missions trip with my church at the time. It’s a Friends Church (think Quaker), so we partnered with Friends Churches over in Ireland. We met in a Friends Meeting House, which in my mind dated back to 1652 when George Fox was causing all kinds of ruckus (and by ruckus, I mean started the Quaker denomination), and since it was a very traditional meeting, there was no music worship or preaching. When a person felt led by the Spirit, they shared a verse or spoke a word of encouragement. Y’all, this was way different from the church I went to (and the non-denominational one I go to now). I admit it was a bit uncomfortable at first since it was so different and I wasn’t prepared, but it was a great experience and helpful to see the ways other believers worship and seek the Lord.

Irish flowers I pressed – still so pretty!

2. Accents are amazing. Congrats British Isles, you win on accents.

The time I thought wearing overalls was cool and hip. There is no explanation for this.
Irish history – never a dull moment.

3. There is so much to learn from people of different cultures. Even if beliefs are different, what a beautiful thing to have open and honest conversations about life and faith. Part of my trip involved working at a youth camp and while most of the people’s experiences were vastly different from mine, I loved it! I loved hanging out with them, talking with them and simply being.

Vicar’s House – we weren’t allowed near it! Felt like I was in a Regency novel : )
McPork – This was the first time I went into a McDonald’s outside of North America and I couldn’t stop chuckling at the different sandwiches they had. Sometimes its the little things.

4. Travel friends! Travel! I am 100% completely biased, but while traveling costs money, it’s one of the only things that you spend money on and it keeps on giving. The excitement of a new car? That fades. Even a new wardrobe (although I do like a new outfit on occasion) goes out of style. But traveling? Those experiences shape you, mold you and stay with you for life. I’m still friends with some of the people I traveled with and also people I met in Ireland. Traveling is worth every single penny.

Cliffs of Moher – Ireland is so beautiful!
Kissing the Blarney Stone after exploring the castle

5. I couldn’t post without at least one lesson from Saint Patrick right? In his book, The Confession, we gain insight into his early life. At 16, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and enslaved for six years. Yet, instead of being filled with bitterness, during that time he spent time thinking about who he was and his spirituality and eventually found faith and turned his life to Christ. What a story right? There’s often times I don’t understand why something is or isn’t happening, but I can trust that God is still in control. Like Joseph and Saint Patrick, we are refined in the fire. Amen.

Do you celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in any way? If you could go to any country right now, where would it be?

Travel Adventures

Adventures in Boston | 2014

A couple of weekends ago I was in Boston and let me tell you, it’s beautiful this time of year! Can’t say I missed the triple degree heat of Texas ;). There’s so much history to this city and even though I’ve been to Boston, I was able to see a ton of stuff I didn’t catch on the last trip. Here’s some photos and maybe they’ll convince you to go check Boston out for yourself :).

While checking out fun food places and the Freedom Trail, my good friend Mikey and I also had a chance to cruise the Boston Harbor. Oh so pretty!

Waiting for our boat

I attempted to pose the same, but didn’t quite turn out that way 😉

The Freedom Trail throughout Boston is marked by red brick, so it’s easy to follow!

Then there was Bunker Hill. We didn’t really know what to expect, so when they said “go on up! The wait isn’t that long!” that’s exactly what we did.

Internet. It’s like 300 steps up.

In tight quarters.

I was huffing and puffing more than the big bad wolf y’all. And here I thought my new workout regime was going good. What’s vacation though, without sweating and working out those quads right? 😉

Yep….it’s tall.
But the view was so pretty!
Evidence that I made it to the top!

I also got to see Harvard (you know, my college back up plan ;). Such an old and beautiful campus.

Then there was Fenway Park! This was such a great tour (and baseball ranks right there with golf in sports I like watching). From the history to all the stories – I definitely recommend taking this tour if you find yourself in Boston.

These seats are the same seats from the early 30s. So if your grandparents have a ticket from those days, they would match up!

The red seat represents the longest Fenway homerun, hit by Ted Williams on June 9, 1946. The guy sitting in the seat at that time had fallen asleep and was hit in the head with the said homerun (he lived). Lesson learned right?

More of pretty Boston:

I believe this is Paul Revere. I didn’t take notes and clearly I thought my memory was better than it really is, so we’re sticking with Paul.

Before I headed to the airport, we stopped by the gem of all gems: The Boston Public Library. I WANT ONE.

ASLAN!!! They may not call him that, but close enough.

Look how pretty they are.

Whoa! Lots of pictures – hope you enjoyed them! We also did a tour of Samuel Adams Brewery, but that’ll get a post all on it’s own :). So readers, have you ever been to Boston? What’s one of your favorites cities?

Travel Adventures

Samuel Adams Brewery | Boston, MA

Apparently breweries are my jam right now. But hey, if you’re in Boston, of course you have to check out their beloved Samuel Adams. It would be a crime not to. 😉 Plus the tour is free and they give you a souvenir glass to take home. Wins. I’m all about wins.

These are hops. If they ask you to rub them between your hands, don’t. Unless you like sticky and hoppy smelling hands.

One of their rare brews, Utopias, is stored in old Whiskey barrels for a year. Certain states don’t even sell it!

Our tour guides Andrew and Bobby were rather comical and made the tour that much more enjoyable. They’re commentary had me chuckling quite a bit.

We got to try three, so here’s my official review (you know, since I’m such the connoisseur. And by that I mean, I still don’t really know the difference between IPAs or hops #honesty)

Boston Lager
This brew accounts for about 50% of their annual sales and is known for it’s clarity, amber gold color and tastes right in the middle of hops bitterness and malt sweetness. I liked it. It’s one I’d buy and keep in the fridge. If you haven’t tried a Samuel Adams beer, I’d definitely start with this one.

Summer Ale
Mmmmmm. I’m learning when there is summer involved in the name or description I’m usually a fan. This one was no different. So refreshing!

Belgian Wheat Ale
We’ll just say this one wasn’t my favorite. A bit too bitter for me.

The tasting room
This one is their most popular

So there you have it – a peek into the inner workings of the mighty Samuel Adams ;). Boston really is such a fun city. There’s something for everyone and I definitely want to visit again!

Have you ever tried Mr. Adams’ beer? I think I need to start adding wineries to the blog. Anyone up for a trip to Fredericksburg? 🙂

Travel Adventures

The Day They Stormed the Beaches

Today we commemorate the 70th anniversary when troops stormed the beaches of Normandy’s coast, beginning the end of the Nazi hold on France and World War ll. Thousands of lives were lost that day, and the world saw what heroes were made of, what sacrifice and courage look like and the cost of freedom. They truly were a great generation.

“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you…I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle…let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

I had the opportunity to be in Normandy on the 60th anniversary with my family and it was, of course, an incredible experience. I thought today would be the perfect day to share some of that trip (back in the days of my first Canon film ;).

We were in the towns of Arromanches-les-Bains and Bayeux, as we headed to what was known on D-Day as Gold Beach (where British landed). Since it was so chaotic (understandably), we ended up teaming up with a few American tourists, a French guy visiting from another part of the state and two other French men who lived in Normandy. We were a rag tag team finding our way through northern France and I remember when we were thanking one of the French men (he pulled up on his bike with a baguette in the front basket – I jest not ;)) for going to get his car to drive us, he said no thanks was necessary, “It is because of America, we are free!” The perfect statement for that day!

This was one of my favorite sights throughout the town.
Such inspiring men!
I love French towns.
Gold Beach

It as such a life-changing trip and I really want to go back to Europe after going through all my old pictures! Are any of you WWII history buffs? Or how about family stories? I’d love to hear them!

Here’s the words from the poem as well:

Dear Veteran,
I’m writing to say “Thank You,” and through me, there are thousands of children speaking to thousands of Veterans.

Like us, you were young and carefree, but when you were only twenty years old, Liberty called – called you to say:

“I’m dying, come and save me!”

And you arose, full of courage and zeal, to answer that call.

You underwent training, day after day, for “D” Day, and one day in June, you arrived by air and sea.

And you fought with the heart and soul of a free man, so that we, too, might be free.

You saw your fellows fall on our beaches and in our fields and, in spite of your grief and your injuries, you stayed on and fought side-by-side with us.

And so, dear Veteran, I want to tell you, regarding those dear to you who sacrificed their youth and are now resting in peace, the sleep of the just, that,

WE ARE CHILDREN THEY NEVER HAD.

And to you, dear Veteran, who offered your bravery and your most promising years for this our land, I say to you,

WE ARE YOUR SONS, SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF LIBERTY,
who want to say to you today,
a heartfelt THANK YOU!

Other D-Day related posts:

D-Day 70th Anniversary Blog Tour – and Giveaway
! (A tour of WWII inspired fiction)
The Guardian’s Interactive D-day landings scenes in 1944 and now
BBC’s iWonder
The real lessons of D-Day