Samobor Carnival

Samobor Carnival

Samobor Carnival

The town of Samobor in Croatia is one of the best places in Croatia to celebrate carnival, so we went to Samobor Carnival to check it out this weekend! Every year, the town is taken over by Prince Fasnik and turned into the Free Republic of Fasnik for ten days of revelry. At the end, they charge Prince Fasnik for all the bad things that happened in the previous year and burn him (a puppet)! Then, lent begins. We had a great time. It was a really cool experience I know I’ll treasure forever!

See Croatia Full of Life for more on Samobor and the ancient lore. 

P.S. The theme this year was “western” — that will account for all the cowboy stuff!

The daytime is for families, so that’s when we spent most of our time 🙂 O found a balloon stand.
He picked out the purple Olaf and gave him a big kiss!
There were lots of food and craft stands, and also mask and wig stands in case you forgot your costume! We chose not dress up. Most people were not “masked!”
The main stage had shows all day — this was a Croatian stand up show. The only thing we understood was something about the movie “Frozen!”
O’s first cotton candy


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Casa di Giulietta — Verona, Italy

Happy Valentines Day, Divas!!

In our last Devotional Diva post, I shared most of our trip to Vicenza and Verona, Italy…

LEAVING OUT THE MOST ROMANTIC (YET FICTIONAL) PART!

I saved Casa di Giulietta in Verona for a special Valentines Day post!

We had to do it. I love Romeo & Juliet. It’s supposed to be where she lived. There is a statue of Juliet, there is her infamous balcony and a small museum. (What I really want to know is where is the pool that Leonardo DiCaprio falls into in the movie version???)

Also — there’s a tomb not far from here. We didn’t make it over there.

While the story is based on two rival families (or so I’ve heard), Casa di Giulietta wasn’t actually where Juliet lived. Juliet wasn’t a real person.

So it’s kind of a silly touristy thing.

But let’s live a little. Let’s be romantic! It’s Verona!

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That’s me on the balcony! Just another Juliet.
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This cobblestone was not made for strollers, let me tell you.
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There must be 1 zillion names and messages on the walls of Casa di Giulietta.
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The entrance
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This is another vantage point. This is the “free” balcony photoshoot. It is not good. I recommend paying the small fee for the museum and real balcony. You deserve to be a real Juliet. Although, if lines are really bad in the summer I suppose it’s an okay alternative.
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There is a little postal box where you can mail letters to Juliet.

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Florence Cathedral: Churches Around the World

It’s time for another installment of Devotional Diva’s “Churches Around the World” series! Today we’re taking a look at the Florence Cathedral, which is of course in Florence, Italy (or Firenze as the Italians say!).

The official name of the church is The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore but it is also known as the Duomo because of the glorious domes that make it so iconic.

We enjoyed seeing the Cathedral, and I would recommend it. It’s kind of a must-see in you’re in Florence and not easy to miss! Since we were there in late fall, there was no line to get in. It didn’t take too much time out of our day. It was worth a look inside.

Admission is free. Here is the website for more information: http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/cathedral_of_florence.html

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Reflecting and Projecting: How to Live Each Year with Purpose

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Reflecting and Projecting: How to Live Each Year with Purpose

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Britney Christian Miller. Britney is sharing her story today about being a Christian missionary and musician abroad and her goals now that she is home in California this year. You may be noticing more music on Devotional Diva! I’m thrilled about this, and there is more to come 😉 Thank you, Britney!]

This time of year, all of us do two things; we reflect and we project. We reflect on the year we just lived and then we project our ideals on to a new year. Whether we do this for five minutes when we post our best nine on Instagram, or we spend several weeks pondering, none of us escape this deep desire for our lives to count for something in the future and wonder if it did in the past.

Each year, instead of doing a new years resolution, I pick a theme that I want to work on. In 2016 my theme was “yearning.”

I wanted to wake up every morning with a deeper yearning for God: to know him more, to seek him more and to experience him to greater depths.

My husband and I were about to move across the world, to a country most people have never heard of, and serve as missionaries to women enslaved to sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Yearning for God wasn’t just a luxury; it was part of my lifeline. It was my only security in an otherwise completely uncertain realm.

Our experience overseas was full of curveballs. We moved there to work at a center for women coming out of sexual exploitation and the day we arrived, all the women who were living there had moved out for various reasons. But instead, I got to focus my efforts on street outreach to women who were still being exploited and God infused in me a deeper passion for reaching those who are held captive to the enemy. My yearning for God grew as I wrestled with witnessing evil and yet knowing the power of God in the midst of it all. Yearning was no longer something I had to muster up or work for; it became absolutely necessary to process the world around me.

Another curveball came when after only six short months of us living overseas we felt God calling us back home. Our original plan was to be there at least a year and a half, but most likely longer. Again, I wrestled and yearned for God in the most desperate way to help me make sense why he called us across the world only to bring us right back. I didn’t receive a glorious revelation of God’s plans for our future right off the bat, but we followed anyways not quite sure of what the next season would hold.

Shortly after I arrived home, God gave me my theme for 2017:

“This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gifts God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:6-7

God has called me to “fan into flames” the gifts he put inside of me not only during my time overseas, but my whole life. I am beginning to see the glimpses of why God called us overseas in the first place. My passion for fighting for those who are enslaved to human trafficking was not just something I could do overseas. In fact, it turns out that my seemingly beautiful hometown in the midst of southern California is also darker than I ever realized growing up surrounded by all of my church friends.

I have already begun to serve with another Christian non-profit called “Forever Found” which allows me to connect with girls much like the ones I worked with overseas. I even get to be a part of launching a brand new team that will come alongside girls in my county the moment they are being rescued out of trafficking.

I stand at the edge of this great cliff with 2017 before me; my toes dangle over the edge as I peek forward in curiosity. In some ways, this year feels far more uncertain than the one before it, because I have no idea what it will hold. But I know one thing; I will spend this year fanning the flames of the spiritual gifts God has put inside of me.

Watch Britney’s debut music video filmed overseas while she was serving in missions. A message of hope that no matter how far we wander, or how forgotten we feel, there is a God chasing after us with an unrelenting love:

 

 

img_9796Britney Christian Miller is a missionary, singer-songwriter, blogger and worship leader from southern California. Her biggest passion is reaching girls who are enslaved to human trafficking and sexual exploitation and sharing with them the hope to be found in Christ. She spent her teens and early 20’s writing and recording music and touring all over the country as a spokesperson for a national campaign. In 2016, her and her husband moved overseas to serve as missionaries with YWAM Freedom 61. She now lives back in southern California and works directly with girls coming out of human trafficking and exploitation. Read more about her journey on her blog: www.worthyoffreedom.com

 

Images provided by Britney Christian Miller.

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Florence, Italy: Diva Travel

Today I’m excitedly sharing with you photos from our anniversary trip to Florence, Italy! We had an amazing time and it’s my favorite city we’ve visited in Italy so far. And it was really kid and stroller-friendly. We weren’t able to do “all the things” Florence has to offer, because it is A LOT. We chose to do a lot of walking around and saw much of Florence that way.

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The ceiling at the Uffizi gallery — the Uffizi gallery is probably a must-do. I really, really enjoyed it. (It has a large collection of Renaissance art.)
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This is the Tribuna at the Uffizi gallery, which holds some of the most important pieces in the gallery. It had the only line we encountered.
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My most favorite meal of the whole trip — Grilled veggies with melted brie.
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Outside of the Orsanmichele church — I thought it looked really cool. There’s so many cool things to look at that are just OUTSIDE in Florence. There’s so much sculpture. There are a lot of churches in Florence to visit, and I’ll be doing a post a later on of the most famous one…The Duomo!

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We had some time at the end of one night to go into the reasonably-priced (7 euro) Gucci Museo (Museum). It was just a fun little treat for me. It’s not a huge museum but it was really cool to go through. In addition to lots of clothes, they also have on display a Gucci car!
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In one of the rooms in the Gucci Museo, they had three red carpet gowns on display. They were AMAZING.

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Churches Around the World: Berlinerdom (Berlin Cathedral)

Welcome to another installment of Devotional Diva’s Churches Around the World Series! Today we are finally visiting the fantastic Berlinerdom in Berlin, Germany! This is the grandest church I’ve yet to visit in Europe. We almost didn’t make the visit on our one day trip to Berlin since it was kind of jam-packed (see all about our adventures in Berlin here.)

We had already seen a small church at the Berlin Wall memorial, but my awesome husband knew I really wanted to go see the Berlinerdom (named as such for its dome shapes on top). So, he made it work for us and we were able to slip in for a little while before they closed.

Here is the link to the official website! We paid 7 euro each, so it was kind of expensive. But really worth it, I think. There’s a lot to see. It’s a really big and beautiful place.

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Below the church is the Hohenzollern Crypt. It contains the burial monuments of european royalty.
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In the crypt

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View from top. One of the main draws of the great Berlinerdom is the view, but you do have to climb about one zillion stairs to get there!

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My Heart Was Filled Up!

I feel like I’ve left pieces of my heart in so many places. But Iowa is where I have spent the longest amount of time, it is where I grew up, and I still have so many people I love there, so it feels like my true home.

As I mentioned in my post last week, in September, we traveled back to Iowa for my best friend’s wedding (I was a bridesmaid).

Honestly, this trip back home was so much different than any other because I could really appreciate how homey it is. Especially because of the wedding, I reconnected with many more special people.

My heart was filled up with so much love and joy, and I wanted to share that with you today.

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The bride and I have been best friends since 1st grade! We are family to each other, and it was so important for me to be a part of her wedding day. I cried a lot and I’m so glad I could be there.
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Right before the first glance photos! We were all filled with so much excitement!
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I took this photo when were all gathered together about 20 minutes before the ceremony. We could hear all the people shuffling in and we were getting so nervous, especially the bride!
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This is my husband dancing with the bride — so cute.
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This is my princess Brigit snuggling up to me. I cherished this moment as she is selectively snuggly and usually prefers to be alone.
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This is Zero, our elderly kitty. He is doing okay. We are just grateful we could spend any time with him. He was undoubtedly happy to see us again, too.
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Here is O playing with Brigit. They had so much fun playing together! I can’t wait until they are reunited. They’ll be such good buddies. I always knew they would be. It made me so happy to see the joy on his face playing with her.
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My sister-in-law took this beautiful photo of me with my nephew. I love it and him.
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O was so sweet with his cousin and I caught him on camera giving him kisses a couple times.

 

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My Beautiful Iowa

We are back from our trip to the states! I’m so sorry it’s taken me awhile to get back in the swing of things here on Devotional Diva. Today I wanted to share with you some pictures from our adventures in Iowa (where I am from!) There’s more to come, because it was a long trip and I have a lot to share.

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O, his daddy and his first cousin! We were so blessed to meet him for the first time. Also pictured in the distance is a cat stroller containing our kitties Brigit and Zero! They LOVE walks. I will take no flack from anyone about having a cat stroller. In fact this is my second cat stroller.
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The main reason we went to Iowa was so I could be a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding. Here is O arranging some of the bouquets.
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So beautiful, right?
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The weather was so great when we were there. We spent a lot of time at playgrounds! O was in heaven.
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Iowa is really a gorgeous state. Sadly, not long after we left our area ended up terribly flooded! The wedding reception venue included.

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When a carrot crashes your wedding photoshoot.

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