W.T. Ellis once said, "It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air." As the leaves and mercury fall, let us gather round in celebration of our Savior, kindling the joy of life and love in one another's heart!
This post may seem a bit out of the ordinary, but is is quite reflective of my current obsession with eyeglasses. Are they not the most attractive things? They add such sophistication and charm to any look, . . . do these pictures not make you want to rush out into the cold and purchase of pair for yourself? Of course, as a child, I longed to have glasses and braces like my cool sister. I even went to lengths to fashion a retainer for myself out of paper clips! Thank goodness for fake eyeglasses otherwise who knows what I might come up with next, . . .
Paul Ferney is such a talent! I just came across his Little Paris Paintings and I am utterly and completely in love. His oil paintings are textured and reminiscent of my smudged memories of Paris. How I would love to use his paintings as a map of sorts. Rather than walking from one tourist destination to the next, I would follow the path of his paintings, . . . from cafe to flower shop to fruit stand . . .
My dear friend, Jen, posted a "song of the day" for every day of our week of final exams. So simple, and yet instead of dwelling on the daunting task of my next final or paper, I found a small measure of hope in knowing a new day would bring a new song. To follow in her graceful footsteps (for you are beautiful and graceful, Jen), there is one particular song I am eager to share with you. As mentioned, this choice seemed rather appropriate today for it was a day that began with a nostalgia that swelled into a sort of achiness for a time long gone. Songs such as this can help one access the most suppressed of emotions, as was certainly my experience today.
As only a Dutch passport carrying girl knows, this is the proper way to eat stroopwaffles. The syrup becomes melty and delicious as it perches above a steaming cup of coffee with cream. The sweet and crunchy treat is perfection on a wintry day. Of course eating one cookie after another straight out of the bag is indeed tempting . . . but please trust me when I say, this is the one and only way to eat a stoopwaffle, or two.
The World Bank defines the knowledge economy as an economy “where organizations and people acquire, create, disseminate, and use knowledge more effectively for greater economic and social development.” The World Bank stresses the importance of education and life-long learning amidst today’s knowledge revolution. While the benefits of such a revolution are recognized by developed countries, developing countries are at a competitive disadvantage. As such, the “knowledge divide” poses a threat to the future development of countries with weaker institutions, poorer economies and a far more limited access to the knowledge that is abundantly available to developed countries. In reaction to this growing divide, the Skills & Innovation Policy (SIP) program of the World Bank Institute's Growth and Crisis practice seeks to guide developing countries as they transition to the knowledge economy. One of the four pillars of the knowledge economy is education, and as such, the SIP advocates for global learning (The World Bank, 2011). Education is not only a means to achieve a competitive advantage, but it is also a means for developing countries to achieve economic prosperity. In this flattened, consolidated world, social issues such as civil rights and education are, in fact, global issues -- we must urgently address.
At this precise moment, there are flights taking off and landing at every imaginable location. In simply a matter of hours, my own flight will be departing from Austin and carrying me home. No matter how many times I take the trip, the wonder of flying never seems to fade. Christmas presents for my loved ones are perfectly packed (nestled between sweaters), schoolbooks and peppermint gum (for the altitude) are tucked away in my carry-on, . . . . now if only my mind and body would succumb to sleep. What comfort it brings to know within the time span of a day, I can find my way to family. Such merriment is my bedtime companion this evening, stirring me awake until my flight home!
"I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want every day to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift."
In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat and add 1/2 diced onion and 4 cloves minced garlic. Stir frequently to avoid burning. After 1-2 minutes have passed, add your 2 ribs diced celery and 2 diced carrots and cook for an addition 3-4 minutes. Once the onion is tender and/or translucent, add your 1 cup dry lentils, 4 cups vegetable broth, and 2 cups water. While the soup is coming to a boil, slice your 1/2 head of green cabbage into bite sized chunks and add to the pot. Add your remaining ingredients – 1 tbsp. basil, 1 tbsp. oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender.
Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum (2011) reflect on the state of the United States in That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behindin the World It Invented and How We Can Come Backand boldly state the following: “America plays a huge and, more often than not, constructive role in the world today. But that role depends on the country's social, political, and economic health. And America today is not healthy—economically or politically” (2011, p. xi). As the title suggests, the authors contend that the United States is failing to overcome the challenges of the current day. Should this pattern persist, the United States will no longer be recognized as a leader of nations. The revolution in information technology is identified as one of the four main challenges posed to the United States. The authors address this challenge and call for the revitalization of creative, critical thinking. In today’s altered world, there is a dire need for an education that inspires. According to Friedman and Mandelbaum (2011), the education system in the United States is in flux, continually changing in response to advances in technology. They contend that “the world increasingly will be divided between high-imagination-enabling counties, which encourage and enable the imagination and extras of their people, and low-imagination-enabling countries . . .” (2011, p. 138). American educators are thus posed with the challenge of inspiring imagination and teaching students to become workers in a world defined by the knowledge economy. In order to maintain its international competitiveness, the United States must be counted among the “high-imagination-enabling counties.” Such a feat, however, is not easily recognized.
As you may have supposed, I am running the Turkey Trot on Thursday and oh my goodness am I nervous! I know 5 miles is not too terribly far, but I certainly would feel more at ease if it was a 5K race as I initially thought! I have been running and training for the day, but as chance would have it, I came down with something dreadful last Thursday evening. Since then, I have been surviving off of earl grey tea, lemon cough drops, and peppermint ice cream . . . I am praying that my strength will be fully restored by Thursday, but as of this moment, I am nothing but a sniffling bundle of nerves.
Should you find yourself dashing off to class without time to contemplate a decent breakfast, this recipe is simply perfect for you! It is simple to bake in advance and store in the refrigerator for those mornings you find yourself rushing out the door. These cookies are perfectly paired with a cup of coffee and they are easy to slip into your book bag for healthy snacking between classes. As long as you keep the base of oats, bananas and applesauce, you can adjust this recipe to satisfy your taste buds. I am particularly fond of dried cherries myself, but toasted almonds, raisins or chocolate chips could work as well!
1.5 Cups of oats
2-3 Ripened bananas
1 Cup of unsweetened applesauce
Handful of dried cherries
Dash of pumpkin spice
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.
"I must learn to love the fool in me -- the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool."
What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish.
And when families flourish, communities and nations will flourish . . .
Women comprise more than half the world's population. Women are 70% percent of the world's poor, and two-thirds of those who are not taught to read and write . . .
At this very moment . . . women around the world are giving birth, raising children, cooking meals, washing clothes, cleaning houses, planting crops, working on assembly lines, running companies, and running countries.
Women also are dying from diseases that should have been prevented or treated; they are watching their children succumb to malnutrition caused by poverty and economic deprivation; they are being denied the right to go to school by their own fathers and brothers; they are being forced into prostitution, and they are being barred from the bank lending office and banned from the ballot box . . .
We need to understand that there is no formula for how women should lead their lives. That is why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. Every woman deserves the chance to realize her God-given potential.
We also must recognize that women will never gain full dignity until their human rights are respected and protected . . .
As long as discrimination and inequities remain so commonplace around the world - as long as girls and women are valued less, fed less, fed last, overworked, underpaid, not schooled and subjected to violence in and out of their homes - the potential of the human family to create a peaceful, prosperous world will not be realized . . .
And let us heed the call [to action] so that we can create a world in which every woman is treated with respect and dignity, every boy and girl is loved and cared for equally, and every family has the hope of a strong and stable future . . .
Coffee is certainly on my mind this morning. Café au lait, s'il vous plaît! Of course, if I were in a more self-indulgent mood, espresso with a scoop of vanilla ice cream does sound utterly delicious! The only one I am not quite sure of is espresso with ice cubes, . . . what would be your order of choice?
I am blessed with faithful parents and was brought up in a loving, Christian home. I was taught by example how to live one's life with a passionate love for the Lord. As missionaries, my parents taught me of the hope to be found in the Lord and how to love, honor and serve Him day by day. From an early age, I observed my parents' devotion to the Lord's calling and the ministry He set forth for our family. I was taught of God and how the Bible is His word. How often I sang "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so!" I knew this to be true, though it was not until adolescence that I began to grasp the truth of the gospel and my personal relationship with the Lord.
In middle school, my life resembled that of most pre-adolescent girls. I followed the older girls in school, mimicking their words and dressing as they did. I so longed to have friends in my new school and to be socially accepted. This was the beginning of a long struggle with perfectionism and the insecurity that inevitably follows when perfection is not recognized. Throughout my high school years, I was often broken by insecurity. My heart would ache at the thought of leaving for school where I would most certainly fail either socially, academically or both. Such fear intensified to the point that my tears of fear would keep my home from school on some days. Often, during these times of self-conflict, I would retreat to writing my struggles down in my journal. Little did I know at the time, but this was the beginning of my habit of writing every thought and prayer down on paper as I means of documenting my journey.
Through high school I continued to write, gently placing my struggles on paper and praying for freedom from my fears and insecurity.
Then, at the age of 15, in the stillness of my dorm room at Black Forest Academy, my life was changed by words I felt were written in answer to my heart.
"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34: 17-18)
Though I had certainly heard these words before, I had yet to grasp the truth of the Lord's love for me, Kelsey. Before that Tuesday night, my life felt overshadowed by my fears of social rejection and imperfection. Though I am indeed a sinner, I am a sinner saved by grace. The joy that swept over me at this realization is a moment in time forever etched in my memory. The truth was made clear to me. As I opened my eyes to my surroundings in the days that followed, I saw for the first time, the beautiful joy with which the people in my Christian community worshipped the Lord and lived to serve Him. I was blessed to have such faithful, godly women, such as my Mama, Loralee, Mari Ellen, Cathy, Lois, Mary, Betsy, Julia, Gena, Bethany and Suzanne, present in my life, there to mentor and guide me. I longed for my life of faith to resemble theirs.
Though the outward change developed slowly, I knew my heart was forever transformed. I began to scribble away in my journal, with praises unto the Lord, rather than writing tear stained pages of frustration and pain.
As I left my home in Kandern, Germany to attend college in Texas, once more I would face my fears of rejection and imperfection. My weaknesses would be recognized day after day and many nights I would remain under the covers in my dorm room for fear of facing new people and a new place. Recalling the Lord's words to me and His steadfast love, I would repeat the following verse to myself time and time again.
"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." (Psalm 34:8)
Today, I strive to live by this verse, no longer shrinking from life for fear of the world, but rather, boldly proclaiming His love and goodness. God is good, and His love for me beats steadfast and strong. I pray for confidence and strength as I seek to honor Him with my life and follow His calling, wherever He should lead.
Look how clever these images are! Just watch how they are moving along down the streets of London. I thought it was simply too fun not to share with you. It certainly made for a neat discovery this morning, and all day long now I have been daydreaming about my favorite Disney movies. I certainly was more prone to watch the "princess movies" like Cinderella than little boy movies like 101 Dalmatians, . . . plus, Cruella De Vil is such a frightening character. I did always like this scene though, and the way the dogs perfectly match their owners. In a child's mind, it is simply the way things ought to be, isn't it?
The images above indicate the most popular names for boys and girls by European country. I found some of the names quite surprising, like the name "Oleksandr" (which I suppose it similar to Alexander) for a boy or "Ona" for a girl. The names I love the most are Emma, Olivia, or Elena for a girl. They are such friendly names, I think. For a boy, I imagine any Luca or Francesco would be quite handsome, simply based on his name alone. Are you at all surprised by any of these names? I would so love to hear your thoughts!
Now that it is October, I feel at liberty to express that I am completely in love with anything pumpkin related. Those who know me, know this well. I am an unabashed lover of pumpkin. Simply look at these pumkiny recipes and I know you will agree, . . . it is just all so pumkiny good!
It is quite easy to convince myself that I have much too much to do. I often lay to rest my adventurous inclinations for the sake of reading or studying. This past weekend, however, my dear roommate prompted me to do the unexpected and take a day trip together. We woke up bright and early, for a Saturday that is, and went about our morning routines. My roommate had to administer a test to a student at 9 a.m. and so she hurried off to school for a bit and I, after a cup of coffee, of course, headed off for a morning yoga class at the SLC. After some scrutinizing stretches and balancing exercises, my roommate came to pick me up and we were on our way.
We sat chatting in the car, catching up a bit and eagerly anticipating our arrival at Homestead Heritage. Only a 15-minute drive out of Waco, we soon arrived. A log cabin visitors center stood stately at the entrance, inviting us into a community bound by the joy and fulfillment of homesteading. We drove down the path a bit further and arrived at our destination: Café Homestead. The quaint, charming café features daily lunch specials, such as deli-style sandwiches and offers homemade ice cream for dessert. As we arrived for breakfast though, I had to quell my temptation to order homemade vanilla ice cream at 11 a.m. in the morning. As such, I ordered a cup of coffee, of course, and a vegetable omelet garnished with mushrooms, tomatoes and swiss cheese. It was a much healthier choice and certainly satisfied my yoga-induced appetite.
After our leisurely breakfast together, we explored the grounds, visiting the shops and crafts village. We observed the craftsmen at work at the Heritage Forge and ventured into the Potters House where stoneware and porcelain pottery lined the walls and gleamed in the sunlight. It was a day marked by beauty and fellowship, . . . the perfect day. Find respite from the day-to-day routine of things and perhaps you too, we discover a place you have never been before.
I would like to share with you a message from Ransomed Heart Ministries that spoke to my heart in the wee hours of the morning. While sipping my coffee and preparing my mind for the day to come, I was quite suddenly struck by the truth of these words. Though they are words I feel I have heard before, never have I truly listened and applied this lesson to my own life. It is so simple, and yet so quickly forgotten amidst the day-to-day challenges.
Every woman possesses a captivating beauty. Every woman. But for most of us it has been long buried, wounded, and captive. It takes time for it to emerge into wholeness. It needs to be cultivated, restored, set free.
How do we cultivate beauty? How do we become ever more beautiful? By tending to our hearts with great care, as a master gardener tends to her work.
My mother's sons were angry with me
and made me take care of the vineyards;
my own vineyard I have neglected. (Songs 1:6)
Yes, life is harsh on a woman's heart. It has been so on your heart. The assault on our beauty is real. But Jesus is urging us now to care for ourselves, watch over our hearts (Prov. 4:23). The world needs your beauty. That is why you are here. Your heart and your beauty are something to be treasured and nourished. And it takes time. Every gardener knows this. In our age of instant makeovers and microwave meals, we don't like to wait. But a newly planted rose's presentation in its first year is nothing compared to its second. If properly cared for, its second year's display doesn't hold a candle to its third. Gardens need to become established; their roots need to go deep, through summer rains and winter frosts. A garden's beauty does not diminish with age, rather it takes years for it to become all that it can become.
Our hearts need to feed on beauty to sustain them. We need times of solitude and silence. We need times of refreshment and laughter and rest. We need to listen to the voice of God in our hearts as He tells us what we need.
Contrary to what the world claims, Beauty does not diminish with time; beauty deepens and increases. "Your latter glory will be greater than your former." True beauty comes from a depth of soul that can only be attained through living many years well.
So often I abandon times of solitude and silence. I often choose studying over moments of refreshment and laughter. How are you cultivating beauty in your own life? I would so love to hear. In the posts to come, I will share with you my plans to apply this lesson to my own own life.
Tis the season of caramel-kissed apples, spice cake sprinkled with crunchy, toasted almonds, earl grey tea sweetened with honey and cream, . . . just to name of few of its delights. In case you missed it, happy first day of fall to you!
My roommate and I packed umbrellas in our backpacks this morning with a hope and a prayer. There is a 30 percent chance of rain and our hopeful hearts are holding out for the best. With fingers crossed, we ventured to class with our eyes on the sky. Texas is thirsting for a rainy day. Perhaps today is that day.
Set in the most magical cities and styled by the lovely J. Crew, these montages epitomize all things romantic. When weariness overcomes me in the midst of my weekend reading, . . . I can simply slip away and take a dreamy vacation to Rome or Paris! Fairly desperate, I know, but one can only read so much about differential gains from mass media and their implications for participatory behavior in democratic society before the daydreaming sets in. Any girl would long to be swept away to the sidewalk cafes of Europe by a fetching J. Crew model, . . . watch these clips and I am quite certain you will agree with me.
Sometimes shortcuts are simply necessary. With the leisurely days of summer slowing fading, . . . I often find myself in a bit of a time crunch. As such, when it comes to such things as baking, the task gets pushed to the end of my to-do list behind reading, research, tutoring, more reading, and so on. So, when asked to bring a baked good to a little get-together with other graduate students in my department, this easy peasy twist on a favorite of mine was precisely what I needed.
1 box yellow cake mix
1 package Jell-O Instant Banana Cream Pudding & Pie Filling
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup chopped pecans
Heat oven to 350° F.
Mix all the ingredients well. Pour into 2 large or 4 small greased loaf pans.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
My dear Lord Jesus, I come to you now to be restored in you, to be renewed in you, to receive your love and life, to take refuge in you. I honor you as my Sovereign, and I surrender every aspect of my life totally and completely to you. I give you my body, soul and spirit; my heart, mind, and will. I cover myself with your blood, and I ask your Holy Spirit to restore my union with you, renew me in you, and lead me in this time of prayer . . .
With the school year drawing nearer, and the travel season slowly fading, . . . I long to take a trip home to Germany. Simply one day of summer in Germany would be enough to satisfy this wanderlust. Germany and its seasons of perfection. Where summer is warm and fragrant. Where fall is vibrant and cozy. Where winter is lit and wondrous. And where spring is pink and cheery.