Pursuing Life's Daring Adventure

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Website

Happy New Year, all!

As of January 1, 2011, my website and blog will be found at www.jenniferlynking.com. It should be a seamless transition for subscribers, and I look forward to meeting you all there!

Thank you! and have a happy and healthy 2011.

With Gratitude,


Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Austrian Alpine Christmas

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We're happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland.

-R. Smith, lyrics to Winter Wonderland, 1934

an Alpine Winter Wonderland

This year, I am spending the Christmas week in the Austrian Alps with my family. We are skiing here, which is a perfect way to soak in the Alpine beauty. Heavy snow glistens across jagged peaks and frosted evergreens decorate every slope and valley. In the tiny village where we stay, we walk across a bowed bridge to the ski slopes, and also walk to the little grocery, the family-run huts (traditional restaurants) for food, and the chocolate-box type church in the center of the town--for Christmas Eve service. Horse-drawn sleighs pull people across the village toward their destinations, jingling as they go. It truly is an idyllic scene, especially for Christmas.

the majestic Alps

I'd like to share it with you, here in a short collection of photographs I've taken this week, accompanied by the original version of Silent Night, written in Austria in 1818:

composed and lyrics written in Austria, 1818 Music: Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818
Words: Joseph Mohr, 1816/1818

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,

Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

driving into the Alps, near Salzburg, Austria

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

a village church on the Austria / German / Czech border

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb' aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund'.

Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!

an Austrian castle nestled into the Alpine slopes

 ENGLISH Literal English prose
translation by Hyde Flippo

Silent night, holy night
All is sleeping, alone watches
Only the close, most holy couple.
Blessed boy in curly hair,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds just informed
By the angels' hallelujah,
It rings out far and wide:
Christ the Savior is here!
Christ the Savior is here!

from the peak where we are skiing

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, oh how laughs
Love out of your divine mouth,
Because now the hour of salvation
strikes for us.
Christ, in Thy birth!
Christ, in Thy birth!

the powerful silence in the Alps

Sending you warm wishes for a wonder-filled Christmas. Merry Christmas! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Time of Peace and Beauty and Hope: Christmas 2010

"Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone-- we find it with another." -Thomas Merton, American Monk, Kentucky, USA, 1915-1968

As another year comes to a close, and the beauty and peace and hope brought by the meaning of Christmas fills the air, I enjoy reflecting on the year that has passed while looking ahead at the year to come.

Continuing from last week's post, I am using the Reverb10 prompts from the site at Reverb10. Click here to see their excellent site, motto Reflect On This Year & Manifest What's Next.

December 9 – Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe.
My main man, husband, Brian--so grateful for him
I laugh at this question because we've had so many fun occasions with friends in 2010, but I have to pick my birthday. With four other couples, we spent a long evening at SaSaZu, a hip Asian fusion restaurant in Prague. Lots of fun, lots of food, and lots of great friends. One of the best memories of Party ever. Grateful.

December 10 – Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?
Hmm. Isn't this a stumper. I'll have to say taking my literary agent's suggestion to heart and attending the great ACFW conference. Great time to refresh and renew, learn from and meet other writers.

December 11 – 11 Things: What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?
Again, these questions aren't easy. Eleven things: so I ask my boys, who are sitting beside me right now ... they say (because they are arguing right now...) 1) Arguing, 2) Criticizing, 3) Complaining, 4) Making fun of people ... etc. You get the picture. I'll wrap up 11 things by adding, saying only things that encourage or help lift another higher. Life is hard enough as it is.

December 12 – Body Integration: This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?
For me, this happens when I am writing. I lose all track of time, and become immersed in story. Also, skiing, biking, tennis-- playing, in essence.

December 13 – Action: When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?
Writing my next book. Working at the story until it sings, and gets sold to a publisher ...

December 14 – Appreciate: What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?
I appreciate four things most in life: my family, my friends, my health, and my ability to use the gifts which I've been given. Expressing gratitude becomes a natural extension of every moment, in recognition of the Giver of all good things in life.

December 15 – 5 Minutes: Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.
Back to the quote at the top, the time and experiences I have been given with my family and friends. So grateful.

December 16 – Friendship: How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?
The friendships we have here in Prague have been rich, filling our lives with more than companionship, but also laughter and new insights into worlds and cultures vastly different than ours. Our lives will never be the same for the depth of the friendships we have enjoyed especially over the last year. Certainly, they have changed our perspective on the world while stretching, challenging, and bringing our lives much joy.

December 17 – Lesson Learned: What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?
The lesson learned most: rich relationships with family and friends will always be the thing that matters most, makes life vibrant, and fills my heart with overflowing warmth. Time spent with others will always be the thing that makes me tick. Thank you to all the cherished who make my life so very rich and full. Looking forward to 2011!

Staring the conversation: What about you? How have friends helped 2010 be a great year for you?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Life in Story: Story in Life

"I would like it very much if you thought of me as a mouse telling you a story, this story, with the whole of my heart, whispering it in your ear in order to save myself from the darkness, and to save you from the darkness, too. [For]'Stories are light.'"
-Despereaux the mouse, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

I love to write. Writing is me. But the deeper part of my love of writing and reading is my passion for STORY. Like an emerging picture in a connect-the-dots sheet, through story we connect our daily realities to a bigger meaning. Story brings illumination to the daily grind. A well-told story lends staggering power and beauty to ordinary life. Story transforms.

Here, in December, I like to connect the dots of the past year--to see what story emerges from the days piled up in 2010. My story. Do you do the same?

In 2009, a brilliant woman named Gwen Bell created an online community of year reflections. This year, she has teamed up with other women to create Reverb10, or a look and consider the reverberations of the past year as we turn ahead to the next. It's a powerful exercise in intentionality, and a time to reflect on the STORY of our lives.

One look at the Reverb10 site will show that the concept is to write, journal, or blog each day on the day's individual prompts. But since I am a once a week blogger, I will write the week's previous prompts in one day per week ... so here it goes:

My Reverberations of 2010:

December 1: One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why: 
Alive. I choose the word Alive. This year, life has been rich, and through all of the varying experiences, tough or enjoyable, I have tried to live out a conscious choice to be fully present, fully engaged, and fully embracing where God has brought my life. This year has been the best of my life. I am grateful for the journey.

December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
Honestly, my life involves little more than things that contribute to my writing. Besides the actual time I spend writing (2 -5 hours per day), I believe that all the experiences we have in our lives build into the stories we have to tell. Whether it is the conversation over coffee I have in the school cafeteria with another mom at drop-off or the grocery store clerk who in anger throws my bread to the floor, the experiences of daily life make up the richness of my life which I tap for all of my writing.

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year.
I felt most alive this year when standing on a peak in the Alps with my family. The sun shone brightly through the puffed clouds skipping across a blue sky seemingly just above our reach. And the greens in the Alps--they were so vibrant it seemed no grass and forest could be more lovely than the carpet spread over the mountains below us. Hiking with my family--this is when I feel most alive. 

On top of the world in the Austrian Alps

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
Traveling naturally creates a sense of wonder for me. I continuously marvel at the differences and yet the similarities between cultures and countries so near yet so far. With our unique situation of living in Prague, Czech Republic, we were able to travel through and absorb places like Montenegro, Hungary, coastal and mountainous Tuscany--16 countries in all in the past year. A tremendous gift. I loved it all.

Kotor, Montenegro across Kotor Bay

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
Letting go of pleasing people is, has been, and will probably always be my most difficult problem to overcome on a daily basis. But this year, I have learned deep lessons and made strides, I think, in letting go of destructive relationships--ones where others are concerned only with their gains from the people in their lives. Life is too short to be dominated upon by people who are never pleased with others, and make that known loudly. There are too many people to love, and be loved by, to spend precious hours and days on whether or not they are happy.

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made?
A snowman! We have over two feet of snow on the ground in Prague right now, and last night, mostly by the incredible work of my boys, we put together a six-foot-tall snowman just outside the kitchen window. I love it!

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010?
This past Spring, friends urged me to join their tennis group, to play tennis once a week at the local clay courts. I hadn't played in ten years or so, because of the kiddie years. But now that I'm playing with this fabulous group of ladies, I am not only loving the competitive doubles exercise, but also the lavish community we have together.

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. 
Different. Gosh, I do know that I am different. We all are different. For me, it's evident at first glance, in person, because of my height (pushing six feet) ... but I would like to believe that the beauty in my person-hood comes from my love of embracing others for our differences, and enjoying the similarities we share. I feel most in my element when listening to the stories of others' lives, how they became who they are, and how they plan to overcome obstacles moving toward their goals in the future.  

Thank you to the great folks at Reverb10 for helping us revisit the past year, to learn from and look ahead to the days and years to come. I love intentional living. Thanks! Next week, I'll continue with the next week's prompts.

Starting the Conversation: What have you felt about your past year? What one word describes your past year? And what one word would you like to say next year at this time about your 2011?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas, Snow, and the Grinch

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons, it came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before ...
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store?
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?"

-Dr. Seuss, American Writer, from The Grinch Stole Christmas

December has arrived to Prague with a blast--a big blast of snow! This week, what began with around twelve inches has at least doubled to over two feet. This is all at a place where the locals say they get no snow, and where the schools offer no "snow days". It's quite an adventure!

For about one hour this week, the sun peeked out from behind its winter cloud covering and shone in all its glory over the snow.

The sun dazzling on the snow

No diamond can compete, I think. There is no more intense sparkle than of the sunlight on snowflakes.


And the excitement of snow -- there are snow forts, and snow balls, and snow angels to make. And sledding, and skiing, and sliding to do. The snow makes toys and games from the store a bore. Instant JOY!

In the midst of the holiday shopping, buying and wrapping gifts, and attending holiday parties, it's easy to get swept away in the popular spirit of the season: busy-ness. But busy-ness, for me, also steals away the joy that can be found in the simple things, things that come without wrappings and ribbons, without tags and boxes, without the sparkle and glimmer of store-bought things with high price tags.

Maybe the real joy in Christmas can be found in spending time away from the busy-ness, giving of our time to others. Making snow forts. Throwing snow balls. Laughing, wrapped in the smaller, gentler things that Christmas brings. Like the Grinch so eloquently pointed out, the JOY found in Christmas must come from a whole lot more than wrappings-- a joy that started 2,000 years ago in a humble manger.

Starting the Conversation: This week, what are ways you can find to escape the run-around surrounding Christmas? How are you able to remember to embrace the simple in the midst of the media storm promoting sales for the holidays?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In Gratitude: Photographs for You

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is Thanksgiving Week, and though we don't have a Thanksgiving Day in Czech Republic, I would still like to say a huge THANKS to all of you!

Thank you for joining me here at The View through My Lens, I'm posting five of my favorite photographs from this year, 2010. Please take and copy any or all of these to your own computers, and share them with your friends.

In Gratitude, these Photographs are Gifts for you ...

Sailing at St. Gilgen, Austria

Ribbons of Summer Grain, Czech Republic

Poppies, Czech Republic

The View of Mala Strana from Charles Bridge, Prague

Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

An easy way to do this is to hover your mouse over the image, and right click. You should have a list of options before you. Choose the option that says "save image as:" and click. Then select a spot on your computer where you would like to save it. One easy place to find your image is to save it to the "Desktop".

To make this image (or any other) your desktop photograph image, right click while you are looking at your computer desktop, and select "save as wallpaper". Or if you have a different operating system, choose desktop background, and select the file you want as the background photograph.

I am so thankful for my family, our friends, our health, our adventures, and for the ability to do what I love to do: write, capture beauty with a camera lens, paint, and connect with so many of you here. Thank you!

Starting the Conversation (leave a comment below): What is one thing you are most grateful for this Thanksgiving-time? And, do you have a favorite photo from these five (they're all quite different)?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Celebrating: Two Blog Years

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates other."
-Nelson Mandela, in his 1994 inaugural speech

To shine!

I am having a blog party today here on the blog! -- to celebrate two years of blogging! I have loved connecting with so many here over the couple years. So, first, thank you!

My first blog can be found by clicking here. So much has changed for me in the last two years:

In 2008, we lived in a suburb in Ohio, and lived the normal family-of-five existence, had a normal house in a normal neighborhood, shopped at a normal Kroger store, went to a great church, had great friends, and drove to Florida for vacations. Oh-- and I was writing my third novel, glad to have a super agent.

Now, in November 2010:
We live in a village outside of Prague, Czech Republic, halfway around the world from Ohio. We live a completely different life as a family-of-five--much simpler than the run-around whirl of constant activities in the USA. Family time is rich and plentiful, and we're loving it.

Although our house in Prague is quite "Western", it also is not "normal" by US standards. Everything is on a much smaller scale, and our space involves mostly family space. Before we moved, we gave many of our things away, anticipating the shrunken space and total three closets for all of us (one is the coat closet! And no basement, no attic storage. What we have is what we use.). We live in a Czech neighborhood where few people speak English.

We shop at a few different stores for our daily food, all the size of a US 7-11 convenience store, and we mostly have home-church (which we all enjoy so much it's hard to admit) because of the restricted options here in a post-communist country.

Our friends here in Czech are from every continent, from many countries, and speak many languages, and our friendships have become the deepest of my life. I am so very blessed to have so many incredible friends here.  This is one of the things I treasure most, along with our family.

And, as we drive to places like Rome, Budapest, and Dubrovnik for vacations, we learn new currencies, new languages, and learn from many peoples. It is living a dream. We are so grateful.

Oh-- and if you read my blog, you know that I still love to oil paint, and play music on the piano and viola, and take photographs with my camera ... and most of all write. I'm currently writing my 5th novel. None have been snatched by a publisher yet, but we're close ... grateful to have the same super agent representing me and my work. And I'm loving it.

Life changes have been great changes for all of us. Again, we're so grateful. And we're savoring every minute ...

Though the changes in my life have been drastic in the past couple of years, one blogging goal has remained the same ... to just write, about things that strike my interest in daily life. About the daily adventure ... and how I'm learning along the way.

Many blogging folks tout new fast formulas for increased following or fancy new metrics for watching how many people are reading each post, or ways to write catchy titles and play the latest tricks to be the widest-read blogger out there. I think I could do that. But that isn't me. To me, I want to connect with people. And be me-- shine the light that is Jennifer Lyn King. That's it. 

So, I thank you for stopping by and celebrating with me about The View through My Lens reaching its third year of weekly posts. This is number 112! And I sincerely hope you feel more inspired to live larger, shine brighter, and take a risk to do something you love today, in this daily adventure of life.

Last thing, a Christmas shopping commercial: It's Christmas shopping season (again!) and I would love it if you felt moved to buy my non-fiction book, The One Year Mini for Busy Women. It's still on shelves at many US bookstores, and it's conveniently available at Amazon for $11.04, and it makes a great gift (so I've heard :o) ) because it is a daily inspirational for busy women, with one short reading for each day of the year.

Starting the Conversation: What blogging tips to you use and follow? And what practices do you find on the Web that bother you as a reader? I'd love to hear what you think-- and if you have suggestions, I'd love to try them out! Thanks!