Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Venezia, Milan, Me


These past two weeks have been
 extremely busy! My roommates and I went to Milan for the day last weekend and I would say it was bittersweet. This cathedral you can see behind us is in the center of Milan, and of course, beautiful! This picture taken in the square was taken early morning before the crazy festivities of Carnival started. 
After walking around for a few hours taking in the rest of the not so beautiful city of Milan, we went to the ballet! The ballet was the "Coppelia Ballet". It was enchanting, entertaining, and I loved every part of it! The dancers were so graceful on pointe, the story was entertaining and the music sounded beautiful. This really made me miss being on stage and all of those years I spent devoted to dancing. But we all have to grow up sometimes and start onto our new passions. 
Which brings me to Venice and the beautiful pictures Carissa and I were able to take the weekend after. My childhood friend/sister came to "live a life in the day of Emily Spencer in Florence" (as she said it) for 10 wonderful days. We explored parts of Florence inside and out for the first week, then traveled to Venice, and the hill tops of Fiesole. 

This picture was taken at the top of Fiesole, the city of Florence is spread out behind us. 

This picture was taken in S Marco Square in Venice in front of S. Marco's Basilica with my roommate Paige, who stayed with us for a day before heading to Verona. 

This is on our gondola ride, we had a blast! We went under the bridge of sighs, our love will now last forever! (or something like that)

On the Rialto Bridge in Venice.

This is taken on a wall beside the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio. The girls and I love to sit at this spot to eat our gelato and people watch! 

These past 2 months have been both an amazing experience as well as challenging and growing time for me. I have been a traveling fool, seeing a new place every weekend, meeting new people, trying new foods and experiencing a different lifestyle and culture. Its incredible to have the opportunity to do this and I am loving every minute of it. However something I underestimated was how difficult things can also be. It is very different to be so far away from friends and family with only skype to keep us together. In difficult times like these, I am also reminded of what I take for granted at home everyday, being overseas has given me a new perspective on so many things. 
I love the lifestyle of europeans in Italy. Life seems to be so simple, not filled with silly stresses of life that people are consumed with in the states. Time is a completely different thing over here! Enjoying life, taking in the moment, and doing it at a pace thats enjoyable seems to be a priority to most. Shops open up around 8 or 9 (yes that includes coffee shops), then the town takes a "siesta" (a rest time for about 2 hours), and they close up around 7, and go home to their families for a nice pasta dinner. Food is not made based on the speed of production and consumption, but based on a healthy lifestyle and natural flavor. Something that I think everyone can be better at is conservation. It seems as though in the states, everything is overly excessive for example: showers, expensive designer clothes, food, cars, beauty products, electricity, and so much more! I have noticed here that those things that we over consume or take for granted, they use as simple ways to to live life, not making those things the only means to make life better. 
However I do miss my soy lattes, my showers where I can shampoo without hitting my elbows on the sides of the shower, hoping in a car to get somewhere, and my grand bags of trail mix :). But most of all my friends, family, and the Christian community I always seem to take for granted. I know that God uses so many things in life to challenge us, and I believe this will be and is a great one for me. The only way we can grow is to get through those challenges right? 
I recently read a chapter in "Whiter than snow" by David Paul Tripp called hoping for a broken heart. This really stood out to me it is inspired by Psalm 51:17 "a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise". Here is a short blurb from the poem
I am too 
with the state of things 
you and me 
too relaxed 
with the nature 
of my love for you
 too able to 
minimize my need for your 
There are desires 
that take me in a 
different direction than what you have planned 
for me. 
I make decisions
based more on what 
I want 
than on what 
you will. 
So I am hoping 
wise eyes 
to see through 
the cloud of self-righteousness 
and see myself
as I actually
I am longing 
a humble spirit 
that is willing 
accept and confess 
what you reveal 
as you break through 
my defenses 
and show me 
to me. 
I am hoping 
a broken heart.

I have been meditating on this the last week, and God has really used this to bring my focus back to him. Everyone needs a real accurate self assessment, and if we listen, God will give it to us. Sometimes what he tells me and shows me is not what I want to hear, but to take it and change these things for his glory changes me. Where religion seems so dead over here, it is easy to get in the swing of not going to church or being involved with other christians. It is too easy to get comfortable with where I am in my walk, and content in places I should not be. 
Lately through struggles but also good times, I have felt His presence keeping me strong over here when all I have to rely on is Him. Overall I am having the time of my life over here and still appreciate your prayers.

Thanks for reading these, please remember to drop a line once in a while because I am so far away and don't want to be disconnected from everyones lives!